Michael Shank Racing eager to begin 2004 Grand Am campaign following successful debut at Daytona Test.
Reynoldsburg, Ohio (Jan. 8, 2003) -- Having just shaken down its new Lexus-powered Doran JE4 Daytona Prototype at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) with Kenny Wilden driving, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) knew it had a competitive package heading into the recently completed Grand Am-sponsored test at Daytona International Speedway (Jan. 3-5), but was still pleasantly surprised with their on-track results.
"Kenny ran the car for us at VIR and we were really pleased with how fast it was right out of the box, even on old tires," said team owner Michael Shank. "Kenny could easily lap at times that put us in the top three at last year's race at VIR, but we weren't sure how we would be at Daytona."
"After we ran the first session at Daytona on old tires, everything seemed to be really good for the second session on Saturday," Shank continued. "Then we put new tires on the car and immediately went to P3 and stayed there for the entire session. As it turned out, we stayed in the top five or six the entire test, and on the last session we ended up P2. While we understand that the Rolex 24 is a long race, it's really nice to know that we will have a package that is very, very competitive."
Shank was equally pleased with his drivers at Daytona (Brent Martini, Cort Wagner, Kelly Collins, Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos). "I feel very lucky to have the drivers we do," Shank stated. "Every one of them could anchor a team on their own. I believe that if you were ranking driver teams for this year's race, we would have to be in the top three teams based on speed, experience and feedback. Their names may be not as well known as Earnhardt, Johnson or Stewart, but their performance was second to none this past weekend."
"Along with our drivers, the guys on our crew also did an exceptional job," said Shank. "Being new to the series, we didn't realize how intense the work load would be for the test, so we only took six guys with us. But they performed at the highest level I've ever seen -- they never stopped working and we managed to make every session and record over 500 miles of on-track mileage. This team has a huge heart and nobody complained about the workload."
MSR announced on Dec. 1, 2003, that it will compete in all 12 events on the 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series schedule. Parties interested in driving for the team following the Rolex 24 at Daytona should contact Mike Shank at (740) 964-9998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.