Homestead: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing looking for Homestead success again (Columbus, OH) 22 March 06-- Michael Shank Racing has a strong record of success at Homestead Miami Speedway, and will be looking to add to that history this weekend in the Linder ...

Michael Shank Racing looking for Homestead success again

(Columbus, OH) 22 March 06-- Michael Shank Racing has a strong record of success at Homestead Miami Speedway, and will be looking to add to that history this weekend in the Linder Industrials Grand Prix of Miami for round three of the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season.

Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri will once again team up in the Flight Options Lexus-Riley combination and the two will be looking to move up from sixth in the Rolex Sports Car Series Driver Championship.

The team kicked off the 2006 campaign with a strong run to second place in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and was the fastest car in Mexico City before an accident in practice damaged the car beyond repair, forcing the team to borrow a competitor's car for the race. The team has obtained a new replacement chassis, and has been working late nights to get the car prepared for the 250-mile race on Saturday.

"Michael Shank Racing has once again done the impossible in getting the car ready to race this weekend, really just a remarkable effort," said Patterson.

Negri, who scored a podium finish with Michael Shank Racing in just the second Rolex race the team entered back in 2004, can be considered a hometown contender, as the Brazilian has made Miami home for his family.

"We were so fast in Mexico but of course the weekend didn't really turn out the way we'd hoped it would, so I am just looking forward to this weekend to get the car sorted out quickly and up on the top of the sheets again," said Negri. "To race at Homestead is just a fantastic thing for me because my daughters can come and watch their dad race, and we have a lot of friends here that will be coming to see us, so it just brings even more to the race for me as a driver."

The team followed the 2004 podium up by taking third on the grid last season for the Homestead round, leading in the early stages before being knocked out of contention by a competitor. With a strong record at the track, team owner Mike Shank is confident ahead of the weekend, despite all the extra effort that went into being ready for this weekend's race.

"I want to thank Fernandez Racing, Peter Baron, and of course the guys at Riley for helping us be in a position to race this weekend," said team owner Mike Shank. "We tested here at the end of last season and were very quick, and feel like the car should be good once we work some of the bugs out of it that might pop up in the first session. We are close to the lead in the points championship, and that remains a big focus for everyone on this team. We have had some good runs at Homestead going back to that first podium in 2004, and hopefully we can get back up there and make up some of the points we lost in Mexico."

Patterson has been keeping busy of late for his part, matching last year's track record in testing for the Star Mazda Sebring event and then racing in the 12 Hours of Sebring as well. This will be Patterson's first Rolex start at Homestead, but he already has plenty of laps at the track under his safety harness having raced in a 12 hour endurance race at the track previously.

"After just racing in Sebring last weekend, I feel very much 'warmed up' and ready to go at Homestead," said Patterson. "I can't wait to climb into the 'refreshed' Flight Options machine and, after shaking it down a bit, see if we can get back in the top three places again."

Patterson and Negri made quite an impression in their first Rolex start together last season, taking a record-setting pole position at Laguna Seca, and have already taken two podium finishes from just seven starts together.

The Flight Options Lexus Riley will take to the track on Thursday for opening practice, with the race slated to start at 6:30 PM local time. Speed Channel will broadcast the race starting at 8:00PM on Saturday, March 25.

-msr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Peter Baron , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing