Michael Shank Racing looks for strong finish to debut season The little team that can looking to reverse their own curse after a tough October... (28 October 04)-- Michael Shank Racing is looking forward to the season-finale Lexus Grand ...
Michael Shank Racing looks for strong finish to debut season
The little team that can looking to reverse their own curse after a tough October...
(28 October 04)-- Michael Shank Racing is looking forward to the season-finale Lexus Grand American Champions Weekend at California Speedway this weekend as they hope to overcome two consecutive tough finishes in the last two races and work their way back up the standings in an ultra-competitive championship battle. The Michael Shank Racing Lexus-powered Doran has been near the sharp end of the team championship standings all season, but two consecutive 14th place finishes in October, spurred on by contact from other cars, have left the team fighting for fourth in the championship.
The championship battle is close indeed, with the sister Lexus-powered Doran of Doran/Lista Racing holding on to fourth just three points ahead of the MSR car, with the Barber Motorsports Park-round winners in the 4 car two points back in sixth, and the 2004 Rolex 24-winning 54 car just six markers behind in seventh.
The Michael Shank Racing team has been impressive in their first season of Rolex Sports Car competition, running consistently in the top five all season long, with highlight podium finishes at Homestead and Watkins Glen. The team has adapted quickly to the endurance format of the Rolex Sports Car Series after several successful seasons in the sprint-format of the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
While the team has performed quick pitstops and prepared well-engineered cars all season, drivers Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle have also both held up their end of the deal, showing good speed, feedback, and consistency all season long. The opportunity to race with Mike Shank has been one that Negri has grabbed hold of, providing an important element of the development of the car, as well as serving as a key part of teammate Frisselle's own progress.
Frisselle, who is one of the youngest drivers in the series, has blossomed in the category, bringing his cut-throat mindset from the open wheel ranks to the closely competitive racing that Rolex provides. Frisselle has had some outstanding drives this season, including his run to the podium at Watkins Glen, where he moved from seventh to second in the closing stages of the race.
Negri and Frisselle will be fighting to make their way into the top ten in the driver championship, which is impressive given that the two were not even entered in the season-opening Rolex 24 race at Daytona.
"I just want to help Mike finish as high up in the championship as possible," said Negri, who made his Grand American debut at the California facility last season, scoring a podium finish in the GTS class. "The track doesn't have much grip, but there a couple of good overtaking spots and so hopefully that will help with the slower traffic. This has been a great season for me personally, professionally, and as a team member with these guys, so hopefully we can get a result to go with all the effort that the guys have put in this season."
Team owner Mike Shank has kept a close eye on the championship battle all season, and knows that if any team can fight back strong, it's his.
"For us the most important thing is to do as well as we can in the championship at this point," said Shank. "This has been a tremendous season, with lots of ups and downs, and I am proud of the group of guys who work on this team. Our goal at the outset was to run in the top five all season, and while we haven't had the finishes we wanted, we have absolutely shown that we are competitive everywhere we go. Hopefully this track will help us get the most out of our Lexus engine, which loves to run fast."
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.
MSR is making the transition to the Rolex Series from open-wheel competition for the 2004 season in the Rolex Sports Car Series, campaigning a Lexus-powered Doran JE4.