Michael Shank Racing Scores Podium Finish at Homestead Oswaldo Negri of Miami, Florida, and Burt Frisselle of Kihei, Hawaii, delivered a third place finish in the Rolex Sports Car Series race at the Toyota Grand Prix at Homestead Miami Speedway...
Michael Shank Racing Scores Podium Finish at Homestead
Oswaldo Negri of Miami, Florida, and Burt Frisselle of Kihei, Hawaii, delivered a third place finish in the Rolex Sports Car Series race at the Toyota Grand Prix at Homestead Miami Speedway Saturday for Michael Shank Racing in just the first race for the driver combination in the Lexus-powered Doran JE4.
The 250-mile sprint event produced plenty of excitement from green flag to checker, with the lead changing hands several times. The race got off to a fast start, as Negri took the green flag from third position, and quickly jumped to second place behind pole sitter Scott Pruett as the two quickly broke free from the field and built up a gap before beginning to lap cars in the slower classes.
Negri battled back from being spun by another car early on, and eventually moved the car into the lead before handing the car over to Frisselle on the first pitstop. Frisselle adapted quickly in his first Rolex Series start, staying cool in the heavy traffic, even taking his first corner with cars on both sides of him in a hectic restart.
Frisselle kept the car in the lead group, which saw the two cars of Max Papis and Jan Magnussen eliminated from the front when late-race contact between the two caused Magnussen to suffer a cut tire, sending him spinning in the very fast first corner, and taking Papis with him. Frisselle bravely held his line as Papis re-entered the track and made contact with Frisselle, causing even more damage to the Lexus-Doran machine. Frisselle was eager for the race to end after the contact, as it had caused damage to the radiator, and was sending the engine temperatures soaring.
"I was actually praying in the last few laps that the car would make it to the end after Max hit me," said Frisselle. "We had so many alarms going off on the car for all the temperatures, the race couldn't have ended any sooner for me!"
Frisselle was well relieved to make it past the checkered flag, and was excited to share the strong result with his whole family, many of whom had traveled from Hawaii to be on hand for the event.
"This is an awesome way to start our season! Taking a podium in our first race with the team, it doesn't get any better than that," said Frisselle. "I'm just thrilled with the whole team-Dale (Dale Wise--Team Engineer) gave us a great car, and Lexus gave us a great engine, and we were able to be in the right spot at the right time to get on the podium."
Award-winning team owner Michael Shank was happy to get his hands on the third-place trophy, and is looking forward to picking up a winners trophy in the future.
"We got behind early when another car spun us, but it was a good finish for us," said Shank. "At the end, everybody but the pace car was hitting us! Now we have a forth place finish from Daytona and a third place finish here in just our first two starts, and I think there is a lot more to come. These guys (Frisselle and Negri) showed they can run with the fastest guys out there, so we are looking for more. We are also proud to be the highest finishing Lexus, and hopefully we can get them to the top step of the podium soon."
Oswaldo Negri, who had qualified the car a strong third, and went for the lead in the early laps of the race, was initially frustrated not to have been able to be more competitive early owing to the contact from the other cars, but was truly excited to score a strong podium finish in his first race with the Michael Shank Racing crew.
"We learned a lot this weekend," said Negri. "I saw how aggressive the guys were during the race, and then I got spun, so it was a tough start, but it was a good finish and a good experience for us, and getting a podium is definitely a good place to start the season for us."
The race will air on Speed Channel on Sunday, March 7 at 4 pm. ET. The Michael Shank Racing crew will be in action again on the weekend of April 8-10 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, MSR was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr. MSR is making the transition to the Rolex Series from open-wheel competition for the 2004 season in the Rolex Sports Car Series, campaigning a Lexus-powered Doran JE4.