Pataskala, Ohio – Michael Shank Racing will look to defend its 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona victory with a repeat win in the prestigious 24-hour endurance event held at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.

The 2013 race will mark Michael Shank Racing’s 10th Rolex 24 event - the team having made its GRAND-AM debut in 2004 with a fourth place class finish in MSR’s first start in DP competition. Michael Shank Racing will once again campaign two Daytona Prototypes in this year’s twice around the clock race with each car featuring a stellar driver line up.

#60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Ozz Negri,  Marcos Ambrose, John Pew, A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Wilson
#60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Ozz Negri, Marcos Ambrose, John Pew, A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Wilson

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The team welcomes back defending champions AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson in the No. 60 Ford-Riley as the duo once again joins full-season MSR drivers Ozz Negri and Justin Wilson for the second consecutive year. The 2012 Rolex 24 Champions will also be joined by NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and fellow Ford pilot Marcos Ambrose who proved a strong addition to the team when he tested with Michael Shank Racing for the Roar Before the 24 as Negri healed from an off-season training injury.

Michael Shank Racing’s No. 6 Ford-Riley will be driven by Michael Valiante, Chris Cumming, Gustavo Yacaman, and Jorge Goncalvez. Valiante, who has raced for Michael Shank Racing three times, set the quickest time of the Roar Before the 24 test with the new DPG3 No. 6 machine getting quickly up to speed around the 3.56-mile Daytona speedway road course.

After standing on the podium in just their first Rolex 24 event, open wheel standouts Yacaman and Goncalvez return to Michael Shank Racing after finishing third in last year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Countless hours of hard work and preparation over the off-season were on display as Michael Shank Racing cars led five of the eight practice sessions during the Roar Before the 24 test earlier this month and the team hopes to carry that positive momentum into this weekend’s race.

The 2012 race saw both cars never go behind the wall for repairs and remain on the lead lap to score a double-podium result after completing a combined 5,418.32 miles. The team aims for another dominant performance this year.

#6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Michael Valiante, Gustavo Yacaman, Chris Cumming, Jorge Goncalves
#6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Michael Valiante, Gustavo Yacaman, Chris Cumming, Jorge Goncalves

Photo by: Jackie Buys

“It has been an incredibly busy time here ahead of the 24 but the work that goes into having the kind of race that we did last year really goes back months and months,” said team owner Mike Shank. “As satisfying as it was to win last year, we’re even hungrier this year because we know what it is like to win and there would be nothing better than to do it again. The same fundamentals--smart driving, great preparation and pit stops, and just keeping the car on the right side of the pit wall--are going to be key. Last year we won by five seconds, and this 24 is probably going to be even closer. This is a huge race not just for this team, but for the entire sport. We’ve got an outstanding line up once again with both cars, and hopefully we can come back and perform like we did last year.”

Ozz Negri, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “It’s always a pleasure to run with these guys. The first time we ran together we finished second, and the second time we finished first - so maybe this year we can finish first a lap ahead of everybody! I think we have a strong car. If John keeps improving the way he has been improving I think we should be good. We should be a contender every race. We could have won any of the last five races last year.”

John Pew, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “It’s great to be back for the 24. We worked really well together last year and now we’re back together again – we haven’t really changed much of anything. I think that will be really good. It is really great to see a bigger field in GRAND-AM too. I think everybody is really excited about the new changes and it’s going to be really exciting with more people and more classes. It will make it more interesting. As for the year I’m looking forward to doing some more tracks and working with Ozz and a great team again.”

AJ Allmendinger, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “It’s fun to come back to the race as defending champions. For all of us, we’ve been so close to a great finish so many years and when you walk into the garage and you remember the previous year looking at the team that had won the race and now we’re that team. So everybody is going to be gunning for us – we know that – but overall from the sounds of it, John and Ozz and everybody has made the car even better and we should have another good shot at it.”

Justin Wilson, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “I’m really looking forward to being back with the team. We had a lot of fun last year and obviously got a good result and we want to do the same again. We’re looking to repeat it and I think everyone is pretty hungry to get back at what we did last year.”

Marcos Ambrose, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “The team is just a great team and we have a great atmosphere. The car is really good. We’re all very similar in our styles and speed. It’s just going to be a whole lot of fun. If you’re going to come and try to do this race, if you can run with the team that won last year’s race then you’ve done pretty well so I’m excited about that. Ozz (Negri) has been great. I’m here for Ozz, and for Michael Shank Racing, just trying to get through a difficult time with Ozz’s injury,. I’m only here to help. I feel privileged to be with this team, it’s a championship team. It’s a lot of fun to be in this car, it’s beautiful and the speed really flies out of this car! I feel really comfortable behind the wheel and I just want to help anyway I can.”

Michael Valiante, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “The first time I drove this car was at a test in Indianapolis last year and overall the car just has a bit more grip - it stops better. Everything is a little bit better which adds up to a quicker lap time. It’s a lot of fun to drive and I always enjoy coming back to Daytona. I’m excited. To be running with the team that won the Rolex 24 last year is very exciting. So I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Chris Cumming, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “I’ve done the last two Rolex 24s here at Daytona so by now I have a lot of laps. But it’s a little bit different in every car. Obviously this car has much higher corner speeds and we can go deeper into the brake zones and we’re carrying an extra 15 miles per hour through the tri-oval so it’s a little different but I just love it. It’s a great car to drive. It’s the best car I’ve ever driven. I’ve had fun testing at Daytona. There is so much history here. Every time I come here it just gives me goosebumps.”

Gustavo Yacaman, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “Coming back is very good. I know all of the team guys already and it’s not like a new experience all over again. I think there is a good vibe among everybody on the team. The 60 car won last year and we finished third so I think we can repeat that this year and hopefully flip it around – and we get the win this year!”

Jorge Goncalvez, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “I’m very happy to come back with the same team. I think we have even more of a chance to be better than last year with the new car. This year we have two different drivers than we did last year and I think they are two really good drivers for the 24 hour race and they are really fast. We need to concentrate on the long race. I’m really happy to be back.”

Michael Shank Racing