Michael Shank Racing ready to go the distance at Daytona (Daytona Beach, FL) 25 January 06-- The ...
Michael Shank Racing ready to go the distance at Daytona
(Daytona Beach, FL) 25 January 06-- The #60 Michael Shank Racing Flight Options Lexus Riley of Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, A.J. Allmendinger, and Justin Wilson will be put to the ultimate test in the quest for one of motor racings most elusive prizes for the 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona this weekend. The race is the third Rolex 24 At Daytona start for the team, which took fourth in the 2004 event after leading early in the race.
Full season drivers Patterson and Negri are being joined by Champ Car standouts Allmendinger and Wilson for the event, marking the Rolex Sports Car Series debut for the RuSPORT duo.
Negri last raced in the Rolex 24 in 2003, taking 4th in the DP class in a Lexus-Fabcar and is eager to take to the track in this year's event, which has once again attracted the best of the best from across the motorsports globe.
"After not racing in the 24 for two years, I just can't wait to get going," said Negri. "This is going to be a very competitive race, but we feel like we have everything in place and are ready to go the full distance. You never know what is going to happen in a race like the 24, but we know that if we can stay out of trouble, we have the car, the crew, the drivers, and the speed that it is going to take to do well here this year."
Mark Patterson is making his third career start in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, having raced in the SGS class in 2004 and in the Daytona Prototype class in 2005. With the field expected to include seventy cars, traffic from the GT class is likely to be a factor in the highly competitive event from start to finish, and Patterson will be putting his experience to work.
"Having driven in slow and slower cars, I have a much better appreciation for how hard it is for the GT class drivers to move aside flawlessly every time a quick DP shows up uninvited in the rear view mirror," said Patterson. "I finished both 24's I have raced in, but the cars needed some TLC to get over the line. We have a world class crew and the car is like silk to drive, so our expectations are for a very high finish by noon on Sunday."
The Rolex event is not the first time that Wilson has taken on a twenty-four hour challenge, as the two-time Champ Car race winner made his Le Mans debut in 2004, and he feels as though that experience will help him prepare for the Daytona classic.
"Things in testing went according to plan, but of course you never know what to expect once the race starts," said Wilson. "It's going to be very competitive, but I've been pleased with the car and the team knows what they are doing in these kinds of races. We have a fast car and everyone is working well together, but staying out of trouble and out of the pits is also going to be very important."
Team owner Mike Shank, who himself last drove in the 24 in 1999, has seen his team thrive in the Rolex Sports Car Series since joining in 2004, and is totally focused on a strong performance this weekend.
"We feel like we are so much more prepared for this race than we have ever been for any race," said Shank. "We have all the pieces we need to do well here. We were right on the pace in the open test and feel like we should be quick right off the trailer this weekend to hopefully get a good spot on the grid. From there we will just have to make sure we execute well in the pits and with our driver changes, and hopefully we can knock out the laps all night and be ready to race once the sun comes up."
Practice will get underway on Thursday, with the first thirty spots on the grid being set in Thursday's qualifying session at 3:45 PM ahead of the final night practice from 6:30-8:00 Thursday evening.
The race is scheduled to start at Noon on Saturday, with Speed Channel carrying thirteen hours of live coverage including the start and finish of the event.