Michael Shank Racing dominates Rolex 24 Qualifying Opens 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series with both Daytona Prototype entries on front row at Daytona (Daytona Beach, FL) 23 January 07 --Michael Shank Racing will start the 46th Rolex 24 At...
Michael Shank Racing dominates Rolex 24 Qualifying
Opens 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series with both Daytona Prototype entries on front row at Daytona
(Daytona Beach, FL) 23 January 07 --Michael Shank Racing will start the 46th Rolex 24 At Daytona from the front row with both team entries after Oswaldo Negri set a Daytona Prototype track record in qualifying with a 1:40.793-second lap of Daytona International Speedway's 3.56-mile road course in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley. AJ Allmendinger will start alongside in the sister No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley entry after setting a fast lap time just .009 seconds adrift of Negri.
Negri will share driving duties with Mark Patterson, Justin Wilson, and Graham Rahal in the No. 60 entry, with Allmendinger slated to run with John Pew, Ian James, and Burt Frisselle in the No. 6 Ford-Riley. After scoring a second place result in the 2006 event, the Columbus-based team is seeking a victory in its fifth attempt at the twice around the clock classic, which will see the opening 90 minutes broadcast live on Fox Channel starting at 1:00 PM ET on Saturday.
The team established dominance early in the fifteen-minute session as Negri set the fastest lap early before Allmendinger staked his own claim at the pole, preceding a series of exchanges of fastest laps, with Negri emerging with the quickest time to be the first-ever winner of Grand-Am XPEL Pole Award.
"This is a great way to start our relationship with Ford Racing and I have to say thanks to the Roush Yates guys because they've really helped us move forward and I can't say how pleased I am to be on pole," said Negri. "This is nothing compared to the effort we have ahead of us for the race, but it obviously feels good to set this record time and to have my teammate AJ right next to me on the front row. I've been saying that this Michael Shank Racing team is the best, and it's fantastic we can show that here today, and hopefully we can do what we came here to do and win this race."
The race marks Allmendinger's third start in the event, and the young Red Bull NASCAR pilot is looking to go one better than the runner-up result he took with the team in 2006.
"Mike Shank has put together a great team and I love coming to race for these guys, so it feels good to put them on the front row," said Allmendinger. "Mike (Shank) is a racer to the core, and this team is full of a lot of good guys-everyone has fun, but they are focused on getting the job done. The car was strong, and is a great way to start the weekend, but everyone knows that this is a long race, and the work really happens on Saturday once the race starts."
"I'm happy, but the team is focused on winning this race, so we'll take about three minutes to celebrate being on the front row with both cars, and then it's back to work and getting ready for our next practice session," said Shank. "This is the fifth time this team has been here for this race, and I really want to win that Rolex watch. That's what we came down here to do so being on pole is a great thing, but we came to win the race, not the pole."
"We're thrilled to have not one, but two Ford-powered Daytona Prototypes on the front row for the 24-hour race," Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology. "Michael Shank Racing is in its first year with Ford and to have them start first and second is just awesome. We're proud of the showing that the Roush-Yates engines had today and look forward to the same result on Sunday. Mike and his team and the AIM Autosport group join Doran Racing as part of the Ford family in the Rolex Series, and it looks like we're off to a great start to the season."