Michael Shank Racing has strong driver lineup for Daytona 24H

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian press release

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Set for 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona

Daytona Beach, FL - Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will look to kick off the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship this weekend at Daytona International Speedway with a strong result in the much anticipated 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Making its ninth appearance in the 24-hour endurance classic, the team has fielded a multi-car campaign in every Rolex 24 event since 2006 and is well-prepared for the historic 50th running of the race. Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will again field two Daytona Prototype entries this year and boasts one of its strongest driver line-ups to date.

We’ve got an exciting line up of guys, and we know that this race will be as much about performance as it will be about patience.

Michael Shank

The team welcomes back NASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger and IndyCar racer Justin Wilson as the pair joins GRAND-AM series regulars Ozz Negri and John Pew in the No. 60 LiveOn.com Daytona Prototype.

The No. 6 Ford-Riley will be shared by an international driver line-up which includes NASCAR driver and Rolex 24 veteran Michael McDowell (United States) and three young drivers who will make their Rolex 24 debut: Jorge Goncalvez (Venezuela), Felipe Nasr (Brazil), and Gustavo Yacaman (Colombia).

The team’s best finish in the event came in 2006 when Allmendinger, Wilson, Negri and Mark Patterson co-drove the No. 60 machine to a second place finish.

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian knows what it takes to survive the Rolex 24 having fielded a three-car effort last year. In an impressive performance from the team, all three cars never went to the garage and all three machines were still running at the end of the 24 hours with the No. 23 Ford-Riley finishing on the lead lap just off the podium in fourth after a strong late-race charge for third.

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian has been working countless hours as the team prepares for the twice around the clock event in hopes that the efforts pay off with a solid showing from both cars and that 2012 will be their year to earn the Rolex 24 title.

“The team has been working incredibly hard over the last few weeks,” said Shank. “We’re as ready as we can be and we’re eager to get going. I’m very proud of the effort this whole team has put in, and I’m very excited about our chances this year. We’ve got an exciting line up of guys, and we know that this race will be as much about performance as it will be about patience. ”

The event opens with practice on Thursday followed by Daytona Prototype qualifying at 3:45 PM (ET). The green flag will drop on the 24-hour race at 3:30 PM (ET) on Saturday with SPEED carrying full flag-to-flag coverage. The opening seven and a half hours as well as the closing seven hours of the event will be televised on the SPEED channel while speedtv.com will have live streaming during the overnight hours.

MSR with Curb/Agajanian Rolex 24 DRIVER QUOTEBOARD:

Ozz Negri, No. 60 Liveon.com Ford-Riley: “I think we accomplished what we needed to at the test and me and (engineer) Dale (Wise) working together for the second year I think we’ll be good. He knows what I want and he knows what to do with the car and Shank is always spinning 100mph, which is good to have a guy like him because he’s really motivated all the time and pumping us up and guiding us right to what we need and what he wants and we have to deliver what he wants. John improved a lot, and I think he’s going to get another jump again this year. I’m really excited.”

#6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Jorge Goncalvez, Michael McDowell, Felipe Nasr, Gustavo Yacaman
#6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Jorge Goncalvez, Michael McDowell, Felipe Nasr, Gustavo Yacaman

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

John Pew, No. 60 Liveon.com Ford-Riley: “I feel really lucky to be on this team. To have Ozz (Negri) as a partner and now with AJ (Allmendinger) and Justin (Wilson) - it really gels right. I’m excited about it and kind of humbled about it too. It’s going well. It’s not a hard car to drive and I think we’re making progress on the car and I think we’ve got a good racecar. You have to get ready physically and mentally. I did some karting and biking over the last couple of weeks and now I’m just rested and ready to go.”

AJ Allmendinger, No. 60 Liveon.com Ford-Riley: “We learned some stuff at the test so overall I’m pretty pleased. We know the Chevys are going to be fast. I think the SunTrust car might be the car to beat as of right now. You never know when you come back. Going into the race all you hope for is a car that is close enough to win and then you just pray everything goes right. So we’re definitely going to have the speed now we just have to do the right things and hope for some more.”

Justin Wilson, No. 60 Liveon.com Ford-Riley: “I’m looking forward to the race. The key is working out some of the changes we made and making sure we really understand and know what we’re doing. The conditions change so much. The temperature changes - obviously the middle of the night is much colder than the middle of the day so it’s just getting a good handle on that so we can attack in every condition and situation and I think we’ve made some good changes on the car that allows us to do that.”

Michael McDowell, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “It’s great to be back in the car. It’s always a treat to drive here at Daytona especially in a Rolex car. We just have to stay calm and not use a lot of the curbs. Just the standard stuff. Now everybody has a feel for the car. You know every driver wants to be the quickest - it’s just the way it is. But when we get into the race it’s just a matter of logging laps and not doing anything crazy. The track changes so much - all kinds of debris, and dirt and carbon fiber and GT parts laying everywhere so you just get into your pace and run your laps and run your stints.”

Jorge Goncalvez, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “After the test, I felt really good-physically and mentally. We did a full race stint, and I was just learning how to work with the traffic. This is the first time for me to be dealing with the slower cars on track, so just learning how to think through and be safe is so important and the test gave me the practice to do that. I felt good about it, and this team does a really good job and we will just keep concentration and hopefully be strong.”

Oswaldo Negri and Felipe Nasr
Oswaldo Negri and Felipe Nasr

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Felipe Nasr, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “The key of the race is being patient. What I was used to was all about the first lap where you just go for it and don’t think about taking risks. It’s a completely different way of racing and the thing is you need to keep the car for a long time and be conservative and take care of the tires. It’s a new experience and I’ve got all the things in my head already of what to do and what not to do. Until the race I will have a great preparation - I know it gets really hot in that car and driving for a few hours is going to be tough but I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready for that.”

Gustavo Yacaman, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “We were all running pretty respectable times at the test so I think we have a pretty strong team. There are three of us that don’t have any experience in the 24 hours so we’re definitely going to need a little bit of luck. I hope luck is on our side and I think we’re pretty well prepared for this race and we can go for a win. At the end of the day it’s all about whoever doesn’t make mistakes. It’s not about ultimate speed. As long as we keep it clean and between the lines I think we’ll be fine.”

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Series GRANDAM
Tags agajanian, allmendinger, curb, featured, ford, nasr, negri, pew, shank, wilson