Strong qualifying effort for Michael Shank Racing in Mexico City

(Mexico City, MX) 18 April 08 --Michael Shank Racing driver Mark Patterson will start from ninth on the Mexico City 250 grid after setting a fast lap time of 1:20.941-seconds in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley on Friday. The effort was less than 1.4-seconds off of the track record-setting time of the pole sitter.

The sister No. 6 Ford-Riley of John Pew and Ian James also had a strong qualifying run on Friday as Pew continued to impress in his first visit to the high-altitude facility, netting his best lap of the weekend so far to score a position on the seventh row of the thirty-two car grid.

"Mark and John really stepped it up in qualifying today, and we're really happy with the job they both did, making some big improvements with their times," said team owner Mike Shank. "This weekend has gone well so far, and hopefully we can just get off to a clean start tomorrow and maybe catch a break with the way any yellows might fall, and fight to be in a good position at the finish."

"We set a goal to be less than 1.5 seconds from the pole time, so it feels great to have achieved that this afternoon," said Patterson, who also set the fastest time of Thursday's Trueman award practice session. "The first three laps on these Pirellis are just a gift, and the car was so responsive in the opening laps. I was able to find a few more tenths out there this afternoon, mostly in the braking areas, and I also worked to make the most of how stable this car was through the final ("peraltada") corner. Once the tires lost their initial bite, the times really didn't fall off that much, and that is really encouraging for tomorrow."

The Mexico City round is the first visit to the high-speed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for Pew, who responded strongly during the 20-minute qualifying session.

"The more laps I get, the faster I go here so I'm relatively happy with this qualifying session," said Pew. "You always want to be as close to the front as you can be, but the set-up was really good and I feel like I got the most I could out of the car this afternoon. I'm looking forward to getting a lot of laps in the race tomorrow and getting even quicker on this track. Hopefully we can just get a clean start and I can turn the car over to Ian to bring home for a good finish."

-credit: msr