Michael Shank Racing Scores Fast Finish in Rolex 24 at Daytona Daytona Beach, FL--Michael Shank Racing (MSR) finished fourth in class (Daytona Prototype) and seventh overall in the Rolex 24 at Daytona today after making a late charge up the ...
Michael Shank Racing Scores Fast Finish in Rolex 24 at Daytona
Daytona Beach, FL--Michael Shank Racing (MSR) finished fourth in class (Daytona Prototype) and seventh overall in the Rolex 24 at Daytona today after making a late charge up the standings in the #6 Lexus-powered Doran JE4 after overcoming all the challenges of running twenty four hours at speed, including over twenty hours of rain.
MSR got off to a fast start in the race, with Kelly Collins taking the lead in the early stages after starting the race in seventh. The MSR machine remained on the lead lap through the first 100 laps, but soon fell victim to some setbacks caused by the inclement weather, forcing the crew to fix a balky wiper blade early in the night and then later the rear light assembly after the brake lights began to only work intermittently. The driving roster of Collins, Cort Wagner, Thomas Erdos, and Mike Newton traded duties during the night and ran a strong pace, keeping the car in contention throughout.
The rain began to fall just two hours into the event, and became so heavy that the race ran under yellow flag conditions for three hours before easing up and allowing the race to go back to green at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning. The rain was not finished though, as a new round of downpours caused the track to be stopped under red flag conditions soon thereafter, only the fourth time in the long history of Daytona endurance classics.
The field got the chance to race again at 10:30 a.m., with Erdos and Wagner making up time in the drying conditions. Newton put the car in position to take advantage in the late stages as he turned the car over to Kelly Collins, who closed the gap with six frantic last laps to take fourth position in the Daytona Prototype class and seventh in the overall standings.
Team owner Michael Shank was overjoyed for his drivers and his crew to finish the twice around the clock endurance classic in just their first attempt in the Daytona Prototype class.
"I think its unbelievable for a team like mine to be able to come into this series and compete on fairly equal footing with some very talented teams," said Shank. "We were one of the strongest cars out there all night and all day, but we just didn't have the luck on a couple of things, and you have to have that to get to the top in a twenty-four hour race. Of course, we would have loved to have had more green laps, since I think we could have kept moving up in the standings had we had more chance to race, but to have this result is really tremendous for the team and the drivers and gives us a great start in the championship."
Kelly Collins, who took both the green flag and checkered flag for the team, was impressed with the performance of the MSR crew despite the massively challenging conditions.
"I think this was a great result for the Michael Shank Racing team," said Collins. "Some teams try for years to even finish a twenty-four hour race, and these guys came in and did it in their first shot here in the Prototypes, and that's impressive."
Wagner, who had to do the driving duties for much of the yellow flag session early on Sunday morning, agreed that the team performed well despite the conditions that were thrown at them.
"There were basically two races here in the last twenty-four hours-one where you couldn't see much at all and the track was treacherous, and then another that was much more fun, once you could get good visibility out of the car, and you could get out there and race. These cars are a lot of fun to drive, and the Lexus-Doran was really strong and helped up overcome some of the niggling problems we had early on."
Michael Shank Racing will compete again in round two of the Rolex Sports Car Series on March 1st at Homestead International Raceway outside of Miami, Florida.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, MSR was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr. MSR is making the transition to the Rolex Series from open-wheel competition for the 2004 season in the Rolex Sports Car Series, campaigning a Lexus-powered Doran JE4.