Michael Shank Racing scores podium finish at Fontana Comes home third in closest race in Rolex history Fontana, CA (3 April 05)--Michael Shank Racing finished in third place in the Ferrari Maserati 400k at California Speedway with drivers Paul...
Michael Shank Racing scores podium finish at Fontana Comes home third in closest race in Rolex history
Fontana, CA (3 April 05)--Michael Shank Racing finished in third place in the Ferrari Maserati 400k at California Speedway with drivers Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski after making a strong charge to the front in the second half of the race. The result is the third podium appearance for the Michael Shank Racing squad in Rolex competition since joining the category at the beginning of 2004.
Borkowski qualified fourth for the race, and took the green flag for the two hour and forty-five minute race in the Mears Motor Coach-liveried Pontiac Riley. Borkowski kept the car in the top five in the early stages of the race, and turned the car over to Mears during an early yellow flag pit stop.
Mears, who had struggled with a cold most of the weekend, kept the car on the lead lap during his forty five minute stint, and made a great call to get into the pits just after a full course caution, turning the car back over to Borkowski. After getting strapped back into the car and rejoining the pack, Borkowski had his work cut out for him, taking the green flag from 18th place.
The Arizona native responded to the challenge, picking his way through the field and back up into the top five in the closing stages of the race, with the Michael Shank Racing crew also doing their part, making up several positions during the teams final pitstop on lap 49.
The teams' quick pit work and Borkowski's quick pace saw the 6 car in third position when a full course caution appeared with fourteen laps remaining. On the restart, Borkowski made a charge to the front, but his old tires kept him from making a bid for the lead, but he was able to hold off all comers and take third at the finish.
"The Michael Shank Racing guys did an outstanding job all weekend--this is my favorite group of guys that I have ever worked with in racing," said Borkowski. "My pitstop was a bit earlier than the 01 car and the 10 car, so my tires had more laps on them at the end so I wasn't able to fight with them, and I had to really work hard to keep Wallace behind me-it was basically like a fist fight in the closing laps. But I'm really pleased with the car we had during the race, and am really excited to be up here on the podium with Paul and the whole team."
Mears Jr. echoed Borkowski's pleasure at being on the Daytona Prototype podium given the fierce level of competition in the series and having to overcome being sick during the weekend.
"This was a tough weekend for me-I was a bit sick earlier in the weekend and wasn't even sure that I was going to drive, so I only ran about 45 minutes of the race, but I was able to keep the car on the lead lap and let Mike make up the deficit I left him," said Mears. "I can't say enough about what a great job Mike Shank and his guys did this weekend-we had some problems with the car earlier in the weekend, and they got everything sorted no problem, so my hat's off to them, and to the outstanding job that Borkowski did to come all the way up the order and get us on the podium."
Team owner Mike Shank was happy to once again get his hands on a Rolex trophy, and is looking forward to the rest of the season with the teams strong momentum.
"That was really nerve-racking in the closing laps!" said a smiling Mike Shank. "Mike did a great job to haul the car up to the front and to hold onto third in the closing laps even though his tires were pretty much shot. I've been telling anyone who will listen how strong this team is, and it was great we got to show that a little bit today. Our goal every weekend is to get into the top five, and so to take third is that much of a bonus for us, and it puts us a little bit more on track as far as getting some points on the season. The next race at Laguna is going to be a big weekend for the team, and its great to head into that event with this kind of momentum."
Michael Shank Racing alumni Kenny Wilden was back with the team for the Fontana weekend, serving as the team spotter on the radio, calling the restarts and keeping Mike and Paul abreast of what was going on around them on the track and helping the drivers coax the most out of the car. Wilden currently competes in the Grand American Cup, and raced to fourth place in Saturday's race after making up more than twenty positions during the race.
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.