Birmingham: Lexus race report

PRUETT'S LATE CHARGE GIVES LEXUS FIFTH AT BARBER; MICHAEL SHANK RACING PUTS A PAIR IN THE TOP 10 BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 22, 2007) -- Scott Pruett mounted a late charge from seventh to challenge for a top-three finish, but eventually placed fifth...

PRUETT'S LATE CHARGE GIVES LEXUS FIFTH AT BARBER; MICHAEL SHANK RACING PUTS A PAIR IN THE TOP 10

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 22, 2007) -- Scott Pruett mounted a late charge from seventh to challenge for a top-three finish, but eventually placed fifth as the highest-placing Lexus in Sunday's Barber 250 at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Joining Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas in the top 10 was a pair of Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Rileys. Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson combined for a sixth-place finish in the #60, while their teammates John Pew and Ian James placed seventh in their Playboy-sponsored #6 car.

The #61 Aim Autosport entry, as well as Southard Motorsports' #3 ran in the top-10 for much of the race before eventually placing 12th and 13th, respectively. Southard registered its best-qualifying performance of the season with a ninth on Saturday.

Things didn't go as well for the #19 Z-Line Designs/Make-A-Wish Lexus-Riley of Michael Valiante and Rob Finlay. Just a week after registering a career-best second at the Iowa Speedway, the duo retired early due to a broken drive-shaft, placing 16th.

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series continues with its first trip to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal for the Montreal 400k, Aug.

NOTES:

- With today's fifth-place finish, Scott Pruett retains an 11-point lead in the Driver's Championship. The effort marked the 15th consecutive top-10 finish for the #01 Lexus, and also gave the team its eighth top-five finish in 10 races this season.

- Michael Shank Racing placed two cars in the top-10 today, marking the fifth time in the last six races both of the team's entries have placed in the top-10. The seventh-place showing today marked the seventh consecutive race that the #6 car has placed in the top 10.

- Four Lexus-powered teams remain in the top-10 in the point standings.JThe #01 Chip Ganassi Racing team is first, followed by the two Michael Shank Racing efforts, now in a tie for seventh. AIM Autosport currently holds down the ninth position.

Quotes:

Oswaldo Negri, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "I had no fresh air to breathe in the car, and that was a big challenge for me because I was working so hard. We were not that great at the exit of the corners after the '23' car made contact with me trying to get back by, and that made me vulnerable at the end. I want to thank Mark - he is so supportive and not selfish at all. I'm really happy to get this result for him and it shows how strong this team really is."

Mark Patterson, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "It was a really exciting start with a lot of bumping, but it was all clean, everyone jostling for position and just very busy in the first few corners. My spotter Nick gave me a great call at the green flag and we got a good launch at the start. I'll say it was a pleasure to drive against Hurley Haywood in those opening laps. He's a real pro and it was just fabulous to race against him."

Ian James, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "The car was really good under braking, but we had a pretty big understeer so I just did the best I could. It was pretty hot in there, and I think that's just about exactly as long as I'd want to be in that car without any water!"

John Pew, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "Tracy's (Krohn) going for the gentleman drivers award, but he didn't behave at all alike a gentleman there. Usually when a car is damaged and heading back onto the pits, you don't drive down the middle of the track and put people off, but that's exactly what he did to me. There a lot of guys out there who are great to race with, who keep their head on their shoulders no matter what happens, but I'm afraid that might not be the case for everyone. It was a very frustrating way to start the race, but this team stayed completely focused and Ian did another amazing job right to the finish."

Mike Shank, Michael Shank Racing team owner: "It's been busy for the team but everyone has responded perfectly, and the results have shown that. We didn't have the outright pace that we were hoping to here today, but we got some great drives out of all our guys and our strategy worked out at the finish. The pit stops are critical in these races and we had good driver changes with both cars."

Burt Frisselle, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: ""The team did a perfect job today; both stops were killer and we even got a position in the pits. We're just a little bit behind this weekend and we have to work on that. Sometimes you have a 12th-place car and when you finish 12th, you've done a good job. It's important to finish there instead of crashing or not finish at all. Today we had a 12th-place car and we finished 12th, but we're going to work really hard for the next race because nobody here is happy with 12th. We're not used to struggling, so I don't think any of us will sleep well tonight. We'll be up tomorrow, ready to come up with some good ideas."

Mark Wilkins, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "We worked really hard on our pitstops this weekend and the guys did a really good job today. This track is very low-grip and we were struggling with rear grip, trying to get the power down and carry the speed. It's tough when you're fighting a loose car -- you want to get back to throttle and you can't. Some of these teams have been able to figure it out and they're throwing down some amazing times late in the stint. We'll just keep working at it, figure out where to find the grip and go from there. We're going to our home track in Montr0x00e9al in a couple of weeks. We have a lot of experience there, so hopefully we'll be a bit quicker."

-credit: lexus

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Michael Valiante , Ian James , Hurley Haywood , Memo Rojas , Burt Frisselle , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Mark Wilkins , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Rob Finlay , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Michael Shank Racing