Michael Shank Racing Laguna Seca Qualifying Report

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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Michael Shank Racing Ready for Double Charge out West

Michael Shank Racing made its return to a two-car effort this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will start from the fourth and fifth rows at the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival Powered by Mazda after the starting grid was set in a quick 15-minute qualifying session.

#60 Ozz Negri, John Pew Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley Michael Shank Racing
#60 Ozz Negri, John Pew Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley Michael Shank Racing

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

Making his third Daytona Prototype start of the year, California racer Matt Bell will start the No. 23 Michael Shank Racing entry from the eighth position after setting a fast time of 1:22.342 seconds in the Ford-Riley that he will share with Australian racer James Davison. Although both young drivers will take their first race laps at the track behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype, each have tremendous experience at the California road course.

“The car had a little bit of a push and I don't do as well with a “pushy” car,” said Bell, who netted the pole position in qualifying for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race before jumping into the Daytona Prototype. “The things I'm looking for sensory-wise aren't there when the car pushes so much, but now that the car has given me the input that I need I feel more comfortable. I think during the race, I'll figure it out more. The team did an awesome job figuring out what the next step is and I'll try to improve it with my driving, so I am cautiously optimistic for the race tomorrow.”

John Pew delivered yet another solid performance in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley as he set the ninth-fastest time of the field with a 1:22.860-second lap of the 2.238-mile road course.

“That's the best that I've felt with the car all weekend,” offered Pew of the qualifying session. “I had a small spin coming out of the Corkscrew but I didn't hit anything. So I gathered it up and kept going and my best lap was the next one. I think we'll be good for tomorrow, this car is much much better and I’m really looking forward to the race.”

Pew and co-driver Ozz Negri have had a streak of top-five finishes in the most recent rounds, having scored second at Lime Rock Park, fourth at Watkins Glen, and fifth at Road America and will look to capitalize on this positive momentum with another strong run to the front in Saturday’s 2.75-hour race.

"We came a long way today,” said team owner Mike Shank. “The cars are much better, and the best news is that both drivers made a big gain in qualifying. We didn't roll off the trucks like we wanted to, but we've worked hard and both cars have been sharing data and all the drivers have been working together, so we're happy with the progress we made today. Hopefully we can chip away at it a little bit more in the morning and be ready to go for the race. I'm happy about how we performed today and optimistic about tomorrow."

By: michael shank racing

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Series GRANDAM
Tags ford, grand-am, john pew, laguna seca, matt bell, mazda raceway, michael shank, prototype, riley, rolex