Laguna Seca: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing Ready for Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca site of strong team outings (Columbus, OH) 13 May 08 -Michael Shank Racing is geared up for this weekend's Rumbum.com 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and round five of the...

Michael Shank Racing Ready for Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca site of strong team outings

(Columbus, OH) 13 May 08 -Michael Shank Racing is geared up for this weekend's Rumbum.com 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and round five of the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series season. The team has extensive experience at the track going back to the organization's early days in Formula Atlantic competition.

The Monterey, California facility is also a driver favorite, with the famed Corkscrew corners creating not only a signature visual for the fans, but also a singular experience for the drivers as they take on the 2.238-mile permanent road course facility. The track has also been the site of some important benchmarks in Michael Shank Racing team history.

The first time the Rolex Series raced at the track, Oswaldo Negri took the first Rolex Series pole position of his career as he and Mark Patterson made their Rolex debut together, teaming for a top-ten finish. That weekend outing not only created a pole position, but it was also the first foot forward for a strong partnership.

Patterson and Negri have since gone on to taste Rolex victory champagne, and have visited the podium together at least once every season since 2005. 2007 saw the two take ten top-ten finishes, and the partnership has continued to pick up pace in 2008, as the duo enter the Rumbum.com 250 weekend third in the Rolex Team Championship standings.

"It was no accident that we first raced at Laguna Seca as part of our limited schedule back in 2005, as it's always been one of my favorites," said Patterson, who won the Trueman Award Medal in the 2007 Rolex event at the track. "Being on the podium at Laguna last year was a thrill, and we'd like nothing more than to do that again this weekend. We are even stronger as a team than we were at this point last year, but so too is the competition in the Daytona Prototypes, so it's going to be a fight once again."

"Laguna is a fantastic track and we've had a podium and a pole position there, so of course the next best thing will be to go for a win!" said Negri. "Michael Shank has always had good cars there. And we've been better everywhere we've gone so far this season with the Ford-Riley, so I am really looking forward to this weekend. It's exciting to be third in the championship and no matter how things play out in the race, those points are a big focus for everyone on this team."

Laguna Seca was the site of John Pew's first Daytona Prototype start with Michael Shank Racing last year, as he shared the driving duties with Ian James for a run to seventh at the checkered flag. The track was also where he secured the Formula Mazda Masters Championship in formula car competition. It's challenging to elicit a boastful comment from Pew, but the Florida resident will admit to feeling confident heading out West for the Laguna round.

"Last year at this time I was really anxious about the weekend-I knew the track and that the team was good, but I just didn't know what to expect out of the race weekend," said Pew. "With a year in these cars under my belt now, I feel really confident every time out. And Laguna Seca is one of those tracks that you feel lucky to get to race on, and to do it with a great team and great co-driver, I'm just really looking forward to it."

Since the Laguna round last year, Pew and James have since taken eleven top-ten finishes, including a strong fourth place finish in the last round at VIR, their third fourth-place result together as they look to break through with a podium this weekend.

"John did a great job there last year and now with all the experience he has under his belt, coming to a track where he has already run this car is going to be a big help," said James. "I've always loved racing at Laguna-I've had some good results there and our car was right on pace last year, so hopefully we can have another good weekend."

-credit: msr

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