Michael Shank Racing takes Homestead podium (Homestead, FL) 30 March 08 -- Michael Shank Racing returned to the Homestead Miami Speedway podium on Saturday as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. delivered a strong performance to finish third...
Michael Shank Racing takes Homestead podium
(Homestead, FL) 30 March 08 -- Michael Shank Racing returned to the Homestead Miami Speedway podium on Saturday as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. delivered a strong performance to finish third in the GAINSCO Grand Prix with the No. 60 Ford-Riley.
"We were lucky to avoid any problems at the start and I soon enough, I was in third position in the opening stages of the race," said Patterson. "The car was just perfect and there is no question that was the best opening stint I've ever had at Homestead. 'Oz' (Negri) did another fantastic job for us-everyone was on the edge of the pit wall watching those closing laps, some tremendously exciting stuff!"
"Michael Shank Racing has been working so hard all winter, and this podium is for them," said Negri. "My engineer Dave Kanning made a great call to just take two tires in that last pit stop and that put us where we needed to be with track position. I think if there had been fewer yellows at the end, we could have had the opportunity to do even better. But this is still a great finish for the team and really helps in the championship. Now we are heading to one of my favorite places, so I can't wait to go race in Mexico City soon."
The sister entry of John Pew and Ian James also showed tremendous pace all weekend and continued to do so in the two hour and forty-five minute race, but the results didn't reflect that speed as Pew was punted off-track and into the gravel trap just eleven laps into the event, costing the effort significantly as the two had to accept a 16th place class finish.
"I have no idea what he was thinking there and it's really frustrating because we had a quick car and who knows where we could have finished today," said Pew. "I'm disappointed for Ian because the car was really fast even after they pulled me out of the gravel trap, so we know we could have been able to get a good result like Mark and Oz. But my hat's off to them, we had a bad day today but it's good to see those two up on the podium again. Hopefully we can join them up there in Mexico City."
"I guess it just wasn't meant to be our day today because John had done a great job in qualifying and at the start but obviously with him getting kicked off the track like he did there was no way we were going to recover all that time," said James. "The car was great-really raceable and I was able to make up a lot of ground but we just fell too far behind early. But it's always better to have a fast race car than a slow one of course so we'll look forward to Mexico and look to get some momentum going there."
The race suffered from nine different caution periods, setting the stage for a dramatic finish as Negri dueled with a close pack to keep his podium position in tact.
"My hats off to Dave Kanning and his call to go with two tires on that pit stop," said team owner Mike Shank. "That put Oz where he needed to be, and he just did the rest in the car, another great performance from him. This is great from a points perspective and it's great to be back on the podium at Homestead again since we got our first Rolex podium here four years ago.
"The contact that knocked John off is really frustrating, but now this race is over and we're already focused on building on this in Mexico. Overall this was another strong weekend for this team and we just want to make the most of what we have right now with our cars, our drivers, and this whole team behind them."
The third-place performance also saw Patterson not only collect a new dry cleaning bill to clean his champagne-soaked driver suit, but he also got a much better take-away from the weekend in the form of the Jim Trueman Medal, which he was awarded in the podium ceremony after scoring the highest finish of any Trueman entrant in the race.
Michael Shank Racing will race again on the weekend of April 18-19 in Mexico City for round three of the Rolex Sports Car Series championship.