Birmingham: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing Ready for Barber Showdown Strong performance in Daytona keeps championship momentum going (Columbus, OH) 14 July 2009- Persistence pays off, and Michael Shank Racing is looking to put the team's persistent speed thus far ...

Michael Shank Racing Ready for Barber Showdown
Strong performance in Daytona keeps championship momentum going

(Columbus, OH) 14 July 2009- Persistence pays off, and Michael Shank Racing is looking to put the team's persistent speed thus far in the 2009 Rolex Sport s Car Series season into the payoff of a race victory as the team prepares for round 8 of the championship this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

Sunday's Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union (LIVE-SPEED, 3:00 PM EDT) will see Michael Shank Racing look to not only show its trademark speed, but also continue to score strong results with both team Daytona Prototype entries. John Pew and Michael Valiante will share the No. 6 Ford-Riley, with the No. 60 being co-piloted by Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri.

Michael Shank Racing enters the Barber weekend fresh from a Daytona race outing that saw the team not only demonstrate excellent pace on the track, but also alacrity off of it as the double-top six result was hard-fought for both team entries.

The No. 6 machine suffered significant damage in a morning practice session off-track excursion, but the crew rallied despite the high humidity and 129 degree track temps to rebuild the entire front end of the Riley in time for the start of the race. Despite starting last, the black and blue No. 6 came home 4th in the Saturday afternoon sprint event.

In the last six races, the Pew-Valiante duo have scored a podium (VIR) and have been remarkably consistent and strong, with an average finish of just over 5th. Valiante is the defending pole sitter on the 2.3-mile facility outside of Birmingham. Last season, the Barber race marked Pew's first podium appearance before he went on to win the season-ending event at Miller Motorsports Park last year.

"I was thrilled to make it up on the podium at Barber last year, and hopefully we can do that again this weekend," said Pew. "The effort that the guys put in at Daytona, and the speed that the car still had despite everything, it was really like we won that race given how the day started. So that gives everyone a lot of confidence about this weekend. The team effort was just incredible, and Michael drove another fantastic stint, so hopefully we can avoid any setbacks, and get back on the podium this Sunday."

While the No. 6 entry might have the credentials to be the team to bet on, one might be tempted to hedge that bet with a vote for the No. 60, which not only had impressive pace in overcoming a penalty at Daytona, but also scored fourth on this track last year after a spirited inter-squad battle for position.

"It was fantastic to carry the Sean John Unforgivable and Lab Series colors at Daytona and it was just unfortunate that we weren't able to bring them a podium result after we made such positive changes to the car through the day," said Patterson. "This weekend will be another high-heat test for everyone, but we could also be looking at some heavy rain as well. Given how well this team has prepared for every event thus far this season, hopefully we can get a quick start on Friday and go at least one spot better than we did last year."

The facility, designed by Alan Wilson with the original intent of hosting motorcycle events, is a highly technical and meticulously kept track that features passing zones at corner entry under braking. The team has two podiums at the track thus far in Rolex Sports Car Series competition, and will look to add to that tally on Sunday.

"Daytona started off on the wrong foot, but everyone came back swinging and it showed with a pretty strong team result," said team owner Mike Shank. "We want to keep that momentum going in the points, but we also know that even with cars that are this quick, you still have to have everything go your way with a little bit of luck to win. That's what we'll look to do at Barber. We know the track, and we feel like we've got a good grip on the set up that these new Pirellis favor, so hopefully we can just unload with fast cars like we've done all year long, and then just avoid any trouble right to the end of the race."

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Michael Valiante , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing