The #6 Michael Shank Racing with Curb Records Continental Tire Ford Dallara qualified eighth for the Rolex 24 At Daytona when AJ Allmendinger set a fast lap time of 1:40.469 seconds on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. The time, which was just under the previous track record, will see the #6 car, shared by Justin, AJ and Michael McDowell, start from the fourth row of the 50 car Daytona Prototype and GT Class grid when the green flag falls at 3.30pm ET on Saturday. Having spent further time dialling the car during Friday night's practice, Justin is confident they have the pace to run at the sharp end in the race.
Martin Brundle qualified the No. 23 United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley ninth on the grid in his first major race in nearly 10 years, with Ozz Negri scoring 11th in the order with the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley. Jorg Bergmeister claimed the pole with a new Daytona Prototype class record of 1:40.099s in the Flying Lizard Riley-Porsche. The top eleven cars were within .8 seconds of the new track-record setting pole time.
"We were hoping to be a little bit stronger here in qualifying but we've got some time yet to keep working on the cars and keep improving," said team owner Mike Shank after qualifying. "Martin (Brundle) did a great job qualifying, his first time out in a Daytona Prototype qualifying session. It's amazing how close this field is. If you are just a tick off, you are not going to be starting up front and that was just the case with us today. It's not what we wanted, but we didn't come down here to be good on Thursday - it's Sunday that matters so we're just focused on that and focused on having good cars for the distance."
"We just haven't had the grip in the car so far today and qualifying was no different," offered AJ Allmendinger about the top ten position. "We have made some improvements, but we are still haven't got the car exactly where we want it pace-wise. But we've still got more ideas about how to improve and we're going to just keep working at it."
Practice continued under the lights and Justin and his team-mates came away feeling positive about their race pace after setting the fastest time on Thursday night: "After a tough qualifying session we were able to tune it back in," tweeted Justin. "P8 on the grid, but I think we're stronger than that...".
For those in the United Kingdom, Eurosport 2 UK will also carry live coverage of the early and closing stages of the race (check your Electronic Programme Guide for details).