Fifth for Blundell on Mid-Ohio Grid
Pew set to start 10th in season finale
Lexington, Ohio (16 September 2011) – Michael Shank Racing will start the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season finale from the third and fifth rows in Saturday’s EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with Mark Blundell driving the No. 23 United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing entry to fifth on the starting grid and John Pew piloting the No. 60 Crown Royal Ford-Riley to start 10th. Blundell will open the race, and share the driving duties with Zak Brown, with Pew set to share with Negri.
Blundell put down a quick lap of 1:17.890 seconds to secure the fifth position and will start the 2.75-hour race with the preferred inside line heading into the first turn. Blundell and co-driver Zak Brown worked meticulously with the team throughout the day to improve the car and will look to make a move forward in tomorrow’s race.
“Overall I’m reasonably happy,” said Blundell of the 15-minute qualifying session. “I think that the team did a great job and all the guys worked hard. We improved the car and I thought we could have gone a bit quicker but I spun during qualifying just pushing a bit too eagerly. But overall I’m happy. We can start in that position and we’ll go racing and see where we end up.”
Pew put down several strong laps throughout the qualifying session, but faced an unfortunate ending when the No. 60 went off track as the session came to a close. The late-session spin saw the full course caution displayed and due to GRAND-AM rules, Pew’s quickest lap time was nullified, and he will start from the 10th position.
Together, he and Ozz Negri will look to bring the No. 60 machine to the front in the team’s home race. The duo finished second in the Mid-Ohio race last year and will look to return to the podium again on Saturday.
“I was pushing really hard, and that last corner is a classic one for making mistakes like that--I just got a little bit on the curb and that sent me off,” said Pew. “Fortunately, there was that much damage, and I know we’ll be ready to go first thing in the morning. We have some work to do with the car--just need to make sure we get the rear end a little more planted, but we also want to free up some aero to try to run as close to the Chevy guys as we can. So it’s a difficult challenge for the engineers!” smiled Pew. Michael Shank Racing has many hometown fans and friends in attendance for Saturday’s race and hopes to have both entries in contention for a podium as the season comes to a close.
“I’m super happy with the progress that Mark and Zak made on the 23 car today,” said team owner Mike Shank. “I mean we’re P5 by a hundredth. It’s still hard to beat the Chevys right now, but both teams did a great job and it looks like we should be in pretty good shape for tomorrow.”