Birmingham: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing bringing hot streak to Barber (Birmingham, AL) 26 July 06--After a four-week break from race action, Michael Shank Racing is looking forward to returning to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, this weekend for...

Michael Shank Racing bringing hot streak to Barber

(Birmingham, AL) 26 July 06--After a four-week break from race action, Michael Shank Racing is looking forward to returning to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, this weekend for the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant and round eleven of the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series.

Mike Borkowski and Tommy Constantine will once again partner up in the Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach Lexus-powered Riley, as Oswaldo Negri and Trueman Award points leader Mark Patterson team up in the Flight Options Lexus/Riley combination.

With some strong outings leading up to the short break in the summer schedule, Michael Shank Racing will be looking to keep the heat on in the Alabama summer at the 2.3-mile natural terrain road course facility.

Aiding in this quest will be a new-specification Lexus motor, which will see the team benefit from a Grand American-approved motor capacity increase. Lexus currently leads the engine manufacturer championship.

With two consecutive top-ten finishes in the last two races, the No. 6 Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach has climbed to thirteenth in the team championship standings after losing ground earlier in the season, and with just a handful of races to go, will be looking to make up even more ground this weekend.

"Our car was really strong here last year and there's no reason to think that we don't have another good chance again this weekend," said Borkowski, who visited the Barber podium last season with a third place finish. "Tommy (Constantine) has done a great job, and we know that we have a good car set up from last year, so hopefully we can be in the ballpark right off the trailer and improve from there."

After a challenging race outing in May at Phoenix International Raceway, the No. 60 of Negri and Patterson regrouped and has been on a strong streak ever since, taking fourth in the Watkins Glen Six Hour event, seventh at Mid-Ohio, and tenth in the summer Daytona round at the end of June. The team is firmly ensconced in eighth in the team championship, but with a sixteen-point advantage over the Lowes/Fernandez entry and a twelve-point deficit to the AJR Porsche team, will be looking to make up even more ground to the leaders as the final races of the season play out.

The Barber round will mark Patterson's Daytona Prototype debut at the facility, although the South African has logged many miles on the track in other categories.

"Barber is an impressive facility, and while one might question the wisdom of visiting Alabama in the middle of the summer, we should be able to put everything the team learned here last year to good use," said Patterson. "We'd like to keep our results strong through this string of races we have coming up and are very much focused on the championship. Having said that, though, it's been a while since Oz and I have been on the podium and we'd certainly like to do that once again..."

The Barber race weekend will kick off a flurry of Rolex events as the series rushes to its' conclusion on Labor Day weekend, but not before a visit to Watkins Glen for a Daytona Prototype-only 200 mile sprint race in conjunction with the NASCAR Nextel Cup event, and then back West for the Series debut event at Infineon Raceway near Sonoma, California.

"We are pumped up about Barber because we know that we have a good car here from last year and we'd like to get a good start on closing out the season on a strong note with both cars," said team owner Mike Shank. "We have a lot of racing to do yet, and we are excited about the package we have for these tracks with the new Lexus motor, and hopefully we can cool down with some champagne at Barber like we did last year."

Note: Michael Shank Racing drivers Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger have won the last four Champ Car World Series events. The two co-drove to second place in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona with Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri in the Flight Options entry.

-msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Justin Wilson , A.J. Allmendinger , Mike Borkowski , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank , Tommy Constantine
Teams Michael Shank Racing