Michael Shank Racing will arrive in Watkins Glen, a picturesque small town set at the foot of the huge Seneca Lake, fresh from a frustrating outing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After posting top-two times in pre-race testing, the one-day event saw the team once again on the sharp end of the timing sheets with the Ford-powered Riley combination.
Unfortunately, a wet and wild race saw that considerable speed wasted as the team was taken out by wayward GT traffic in the heavy rains.
The Rolex Series Continental Tire 200 race will be staged on the high-speed, high-commitment 2.45-mile circuit that is a driver favorite. While most pilots will admit that the longer “Grand Prix” course utilized in the Sahlen’s Six Hour Race (where the team finished sixth earlier this year) is the preferred layout, the opportunity to set the fastest flying laps of the entire season in front of a large on-site audience is one that the entire field is looking forward to.
“We had a really good car at the Glen earlier this year and I think it could be even better on the short course,” offered Pew, who has a personal best finish of fourth at the track, having raced both Rolex GT and Daytona Prototype machines at the track. “We were all frustrated with how the race in Indianapolis played out, so we’ve just been counting down the days to get back to racing. Watkins Glen is always a driver favorite. The car has been very quick this season and our main focus is to just convert that speed into as many points as possible.”
Negri has two podiums (2004, 2005) and four top-fives in the traditional August sprint race, and will look to add to that tally this weekend.
“Indianapolis was frustrating, but it is already behind us,” said Negri. “We’ve had a quick car but a lot of ups and downs this year, so we just have to rebound like we have before--these things can happen, and that’s racing. We’ve got a lot of confidence about this weekend at the Glen, and just want to keep up the momentum we’ve got with the Ford-Riley. The Corvettes were very strong at the Glen last time, but we are hoping we’ve caught up a bit and can take the fight to them.”
The Continental Tire 200 is one of just three 2-hour races on the 2012 schedule, adding another wrinkle to the fuel and tire strategies for the entire field.
“We had a great car at the Speedway, but we obviously just got unlucky with getting taken out in the rain like that,” said team owner Mike Shank. “It didn’t end up well for us, but I know we made a big impression as a Series, and that’s something we know we can do week in and week out. With a big crowd like NASCAR gets at the Glen, hopefully we can do that again but be much more of a factor. We feel like we’ve got a car that’s going to unload really fast at the Glen. It’s obviously going to be a bit tricky with the schedule--we have several sessions on Friday, but none on Saturday until we go racing! So we’ve got to be smart with how we think the NASCAR guys’ rubber will affect the car, and just look forward to putting on a good show for the fans.”
Source: Michael Shank Racing