Michael Shank Racing showed strong pace in Round 3 but a lack of caution kept the team from converting on the podium potential of its machines
Birmingham, Ala. (6 April 2013) – Michael Shank Racing showed strong pace in Round 3 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday, but a lack of caution periods at a track which traditionally sees numerous yellows kept the team from converting on the podium potential of its No. 6 and No. 60 Ford-Riley machines. Gustavo Yacaman and Antonio Pizzonia brought the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley home fifth as John Pew and Michael Valiante finished eighth in the No. 60 Ford-Riley.
Yacaman opened the two-hour sprint event from the third row and pounced at the green to move into fifth position. The team opted to bring the No. 6 to pit lane when the first and only caution of the race was displayed just 18 minutes in. Following a fast stop, Yacaman restarted eighth in the order.
The No. 60 Ford machine didn’t set a time in qualifying on Friday after sustaining damage to the right front suspension in the Friday morning practice. But the Michael Shank Racing crew worked valiantly to make repairs in order to get the car race-ready for Saturday, and Pew started the race from the rear of the field.
The hard work from the crew paid off as Pew noticed nothing out of order on the car as he took the green flag for the two-hour event. He immediately improved three positions in the opening laps to run in the top-10 until the full course caution. With the crucial 30-minute mark to earn championship points not having passed, the team opted to keep Pew out on track. The No. 60 moved up to fifth in the order, but as the field went back to green with just over 30 minutes complete, the Michael Shank Racing squad called Pew to pit lane for a routine pit stop and driver change.
Pew handed the controls over to Valiante who returned to the track in 12th. Valiante immediately began setting very quick lap times in the No. 60 machine and ran as high as third before being forced to make the team’s second green flag pit stop when no additional yellow flag flew. The Shank squad made its final pit stop with 48 minutes remaining and Valiante returned 11th in the order. A strong green flag run to the finish saw him take eighth at the finish.
“We had to run two different pit strategies in this case because one car started at the back and the other started in the middle,” said team owner Mike Shank. “So we worked two different strategies today. At the end of the day, the cars had good speed, but we just didn’t get the fuel mileage we needed. Everyone did a good job, we did what we had to do, we just couldn’t get any traction. We were the fastest Ford, but of course we were hoping for a little bit more today. We didn’t see the yellows that we’ve come to expect so it didn’t play out for us. But we got the most out of it that we could today and we’ll move on to Road Atlanta.”
Michael Shank Racing will be back in race action in two weeks’ time at Road Atlanta for Round 4 of the championship.
The Porsche 250 event will be televised on SPEED tomorrow at 5:30 PM (ET).
Gustavo Yacaman, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “This race ended up being all about fuel mileage. It was amazing how the 90 car was able to do a two-stop race into one. But on we go to Road Atlanta. I don’t think they will have this (fuel mileage) advantage at the longer races. I think it’s going to be a little bit different so we’ll see what happens.”
Antonio Pizzonia, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “I’m really happy with the way things are going. The race wasn’t what we could have done. But it is okay. We’ll carry on and learn from it and look forward to the next one.”
John Pew, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “The guys did a great job repairing the car after the practice crash. I didn’t feel any issues in the car. It felt good right away. Did a couple of recon laps just to make sure and it was good. I tried to be a little careful at the start because I know there can be mayhem there, and I just picked off a few of those guys a little later on and then I just settled into a rhythm.”
Michael Valiante, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “Not qualifying hurt us because it put us back. And when you don’t have yellows in the race it’s hard to make up the time. The car was fast enough to win the race but more than fuel mileage I’d say we just needed yellows. We just needed yellows to pack things back up. It’s great being back with the team. It’s like coming back home. I get along really well with everybody. The team did a really great job this weekend.”
Michael Shank Racing