Michael Shank Racing Set to Start Seventh in New Jersey
Michael Shank Racing driver John Pew qualified the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley on the inside of the fourth row in the American Red Cross 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park with a fast lap time of 1:18.036 seconds on Saturday. The 15-minute qualifying session was held in sweltering conditions as the region experienced record-setting heat with high humidity further adding to the challenge.
As Michael Shank Racing targets a return to the New Jersey Motorsports Park podium, Pew will begin the 2.75-hour event from the seventh position before handing the controls over to co-driver Ozz Negri who won the inaugural race at the New Jersey circuit with Michael Shank Racing in 2008.
“I think the car is good,” said team owner Mike Shank. “After all the strong results he had this season in qualifying, I think John is frustrated to be seventh today. But this race is going to be a lot more than just pace. Heat, tires, drivers staying cool, good pit stops, all of those things are really going to factor in to a good result. We won here (in 2008) thanks to having a strong car paired with some outstanding pit work. So we know first hand that it takes a lot of things to come out on top here, so hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”
Having topped the third and fourth practice sessions earlier in the day as Negri led the first session on the day with Pew leading the second session of the day, the team had been hopeful of a top-five starting position.
Alas, some timing and traffic kept Pew from matching his career-best qualifying position of fifth. But Pew and Negri will look to make a charge forward during the race and continue their streak of top-five finishes with another strong run to the front.
“I was hoping for more out of the session but I didn’t get the lap in that I was hoping for before the tire was past the sweet spot,” said Pew. “I got held up a little bit on my fastest lap and with how close it is in the Rolex Series, just a little bit of a slow up can cost you and that was the case today. But I think Mike is right, this race is going to be about a lot of things besides just outright pace. We’ve got a morning warm-up and one more chance to work on the car, and the rest of the plan is to just keep cool. I live in Florida and really love the heat, so this doesn’t bother me that much. Hopefully we can turn it into an advantage for us.”
By: michael shank racing