DC's month of May "short-takes"

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#DIS-Indy Connection

Looking over a list of Indianapolis 500 drivers one can't help but note that a considerable majority -- including Sunday's Indy 420 race winner Dario Franchitti -- have raced at Daytona International Speedway in recent years. Indeed, so many have been there that it would be far easier to name those who haven't raced at Daytona than those who have - but why embarrass 'em?

Even Marco Andretti has run DIS' infield road course and been on the track's vaunted 31-degree high banks -- in Skip Barber and World Go-Karts events.

All of about 12-years old when Marco first started making an annual and furtively secret pilgrimage to the track with his father, Michael, and grandfather, Mario, the family was more concerned about a crush of press seeking out his father and grandfather than the little kid in a Go-Kart. All the Family Andretti wanted was some quality time shared between generations, just as other countless motorsports families have done before and since.

A few years later Marco was attending and racing in DIS' Skip Barber Racing School and Race Series there when the subject of the three racing in a Rolex 24 At Daytona arose. Marco and Mario couldn't wait to do it but Michael could, saying something about his expecting to pick up the bulk of the driving duties only a year or so after he'd turned from being an open-wheel driver to a team owner.

One last Andretti tidbit: Mario and Michael would turn the Porsche 962's first wheel at Daytona when the GTP made its debut back in the 1980's -- one that ended way early with a melted transmission, if memory serves.

In Case No One Noticed

Bill Riley of Riley Technologies and Riley-Matthews Motorsports fielded the No. 91 Riley D'Hondt YRT2.Net Toyota NASCAR Busch Series car last weekend in the Carquest 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

NBS 1994 champion (and numerous top-five championship points finisher, since) David Green drove the car to a 28th-place finish, one lap down to winner Kasey Kahne, after the team started 43rd by use of a past-champion's provisional. It was green's first NBS race since he and Brewco Motorsports parted company in September, 2006.

Noting the new Riley-Toyota connection and the degree to which Riley previously wrangled over what engine he'd use in the NBS series, one can only wonder if such a combination may lead to engine changes in the Riley-Matthews engine program over on the Rolex Series side.

Look for another Rolex Series mainstay operation (and multiple Rolex 24 At Daytona winner) to announce a Busch Series program sometime this year. Perhaps as early as Watkins Glen.

GAINSCO GAINS

If not for a faulty clutch, the No. 99 Gainsco Pontiac-Riley of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney would've likely played a more considerable role in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational's finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Fogarty, who qualified on pole, was the team's weakest link before now. Such is not to say Fogarty didn't previously possess a considerable talent -- as was demonstrated in Mexico City - it's just that if a pole was to be had, Gurney was the driver on whom the team could expectedly lean.

Already with one of the fastest pit-stop operations found on any Rolex Series' Daytona Prototype pit road, now it's got two drivers who have and can score poles, allowing for a far more flexible race track strategy before the first practice session is even undertaken.

SHANK SCORES

Michael Shank Racing scored his two cars in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational's top-10 at Laguna Seca.

The No. 60 Lexus-Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri finished third (at a track where Negri had set a qualifying record in 2005, broken this year by Fogarty) and the No. 6 Playboy Lexus-riley of Ian James and team newcomer John Pew finished seventh.

While a newcomer to the Shank team, Pew's been around.

His most notable "TV moment" so far (and, hopefully, forever more -- at least in the same vein) Pew was became the "Flying Star Mazda" last summer at Mosport when a spectacular crash sent him airborne - narrowly missed by at least one other Star Mazda car passing completely beneath him before Pew landed.

His resultant shoulder injury pretty well kept him out of a race car driver's seat until recently, when he decided to undertake "closed-wheel" racing. Not a bad start, eh?

Next up: Sahlen's Six Hours At The Glen, Saturday, June 9.

Later. - Exclusively for Motorsport.com by DC Williams

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Dario Franchitti , David Green , Ian James , Kasey Kahne , Skip Barber , Marco Andretti , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Williams , Michael Shank Racing