Michael Shank Racing makes progress in testing for Rolex 24
Daytona, Florida (10 January 05)-- The Michael Shank Racing Pontiac-Riley saw its first official action of the 2005 season as the team participated in the three day test at Daytona International Raceway in preparation for the first race of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car season. Full-season drivers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears, Jr. were joined during the test by Duncan Dayton and Larry Connor, who will race in the Mears Motor Coach-liveried machine in the 43rd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The race is expected to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, and the team accomplished its goals for the test as the 6 car regularly posted times in the top-ten.
"It was a pretty good test for us overall," said award-winning team owner Mike Shank. "We were able to work through some things during the test that I think will put us in a good position for the 24. The guys did a good job driving the car, and Larry and Duncan got faster and more comfortable each session, so we are looking forward to getting back here for the race."
The MSR team made their Rolex 24 debut in the Daytona Prototype ranks in 2004, making it through the night to finish scoring fourth in class. The DP category has seen explosive growth, and the extra talent brought in for the race has raised the stakes in the 24 hour classic, but Shank is focused on the basics when it comes to strategy for the race.
"It's going to be a very competitive race, and really its going to come down to the team that does the best job just keeping the pavement rolling underneath the car," said Shank. "My guys did a good job in the pits all season last year, and that is going to be an important part of the race, particularly if we have more green flag racing than we did last year. So this test gave us a chance to work on some of the small things we think will be important as the race plays out."
For Mears and Borkowski, the test was a good opportunity to become acquainted with their new team, and they were encouraged with what they saw during the weekend.
"The weekend went well for us, particularly as far as developments with the car and gelling as a team," said Borkowski. "Mike and his guys are very focused and calm about solving any problems that come up, and that's going to be key for a race like the 24. It's also a good group of guys, too, so its very enjoyable working with them. These guys have worked together for a long time, and it shows."
Borkowski, who took runner up in the Daytona Prototype Drivers Championship in 2003, has watched as the interest in the Rolex event has ballooned, and he echo's Shank's belief that the race will be very competitive.
"Its through the roof!" said Borkowski of the category. "The mix of championship-caliber drivers and the car-engine combinations that are out there, I think this is going to be one of the best Daytona 24's ever, I really do. The times in testing show how close everyone is, and its going to be really exciting for the fans, probably for the whole 24 hours. Hopefully we can be there at the end and put on a good show."
The 14-race Rolex Sports Car Series season will get underway with the 43rd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on February 5-6.
Michael Shank Racing 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.