Michael Shank Racing finishes eighth at Daytona
Late race pit miscue sidelines front running effort
Daytona Beach, FL (2 July 04)--The Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Doran finished eighth in the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona International Speedway after running in the lead pack for much of the 70-lap event before a late race miscue during a pit stop dropped the team back a lap from the leaders. Oswaldo Negri started the race from fifth position, and had a brilliant start to move up into second position at the end of the first lap.
"I left myself a gap at the start, thinking that everyone was going to brake early, and that's exactly what happened, so I went deeper into the corner and stayed inside--we were three abreast going in--and came out in second position," said Negri.
Negri ceded second position as the Ganassi juggernaut ran one-two in the early laps, but the experienced Brazilian kept the pace as the three cars broke off and established a gap to the rest of the field. The aggressive lapping turned out to be too much for the soft-compound Goodyears, though, and the car became a handful for Negri before he turned the car over to Burt Frisselle for his stint.
The Michael Shank Racing crew made the change to a different compound tire during the pit stop, and Frisselle reacted well, keeping the car in the top five and staying on pace with the leaders, even though he felt a little lonely out on the 3.65-mile circuit as he raced through the night.
"It was a little odd to do a whole stint, and really not have to deal with any traffic besides some Porsches here and there," said Frisselle. "The car was pretty good, but I had a hard time judging how well we were running since I was running pretty much alone. I knew I was bringing the gap down to the guy in front of me, but I couldn't see him the whole time, so I didn't have anything to shoot for, but I just kept on trying to clock consistent laps."
The final pitstop, which saw Frisselle turn the driving duties back over to Negri, was held up when a balky lugnut slowed the tire change, and the problem was compounded when a full course caution came out as the MSR car was on pit road, allowing the other cars running in the lead group to pit under yellow and setting the team back one lap. Negri fought his way back to finish eighth at the checkered flag, a result that was disappointing for the small team that has shown fantastic pace and determination all season.
"These guys did a fantastic job, and its just frustrating that the result doesn't show how strong we were," said team owner Mike Shank. "We had a small issue in the pits during the second stop, and it happened right as a full course caution came out, so we just got caught out with some bad luck. We would have been back in the top-five, and maybe even going for a podium otherwise, but we were so strong in the race, I am just proud of the team effort here tonight from my drivers and everyone on the crew."
Negri echoed his team owners thoughts, as the MSR crew has impressed him at every turn.
"I have to thank the guys so much, this team fights harder than any group I have seen in twenty years of racing and it's such a pleasure working with them," Negri said. "I hope we can get some results in the future that show better how hard these guys work."