Michael Shank Racing's Fast Start as Both Team Entries Lead Rolex 24 Early
Daytona Beach, FL--Michael Shank Racing once again led the Rolex 24 At Daytona as Oswaldo Negri moved to the front of the field with the No. 60 Crown Royal XR in the early laps after the rainy conditions forced a yellow-flag start.
Burt Frisselle took the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley over and kept the car in the lead pack, racing for a stint while his brother Brian was also on track competing in the sister Michael Shank Racing No. 6 Ford Riley. Pew suffered when GT Class traffic forced him to take an evasive maneouver that required an extra stop for nose repairs. Wilkins took the controls before Negri resumed to keep the car in the top-ten, one lap down as the clock hit midnight.
Michael Valiante had a strong opening stint through the tough weather, rebounding from a quick off to deliver a strong triple opening stint. Brian Frisselle kept the car in contention through his stint before turning the controls over to Patterson, who managed the conditions well to stay in the top seven during his run. (Keep up on his thoughts at the Marks Take section of michaelshankracing.com.) Allmendinger took the controls in the fifth hour, and once again moved to the front for the fifth consecutive time in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Valiante: (3 Hours)
"The Car is Fine-we can run a very comfortable pace. We just need to stay out of trouble. I made a mistake in the bus stop corners. I was trying to avoid the curbs, and I was following traffic through there and there was a puddle right there at the exit and I just hydroplaned for a second and it went off. This is probably the most treacherous 24 I have ever been in, with the conditions changing every lap like this. As if all that wasn't enough, I was very lucky to miss a six car Porsche pile-up right in front of me."
Frisselle (4 Hours)
"The car got pretty free as the run went on and the tires went off. I was just playing it super super safe out there. Just don't want to make a mistake. No reason to go trying to make anything happen at this point in the race. Now I'll just get out of here and go back and relax a little bit and then just focus on getting ready for my next stint later on."
AJ Allmendinger (7 Hours)
"The car was pretty loose so I just couldn't quite keep up with the leader. But it's still very early and we have a very long way to go yet. I'm glad that Valiante got to do the first stint--the conditions are really challenging out there and he is so fast in these cars, I am glad we had him driving at the start! We have a stuck gurney, so we are limited on top-end, but the car is very good. I'm tire, but hopefully I'll be back for a good close to the race tomorrow!"
More to follow...