Michael Shank Racing prepares for 2006 with strong test at Homestead (Columbus, OH)- 8 December 05-- Michael Shank Racing continued preparations for the 2006 season with a test at Homestead Miami Speedway this week. The test, which focused on...
Michael Shank Racing prepares for 2006 with strong test at Homestead
(Columbus, OH)- 8 December 05-- Michael Shank Racing continued preparations for the 2006 season with a test at Homestead Miami Speedway this week. The test, which focused on the #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley, gave the team the chance to prepare for the Rolex Sports Car Series visit to the Miami-area track next March, as well as getting to know some new faces joining the team.
"We worked through the testing program that we'd planned on and made some solid progress," said team owner Mike Shank. "A.J. (Allmendinger) and Justin (Wilson) both got in the car as well and were quick right off the bat even though they were just working to get a feel for the car. Getting them some seat time was important, and we should be able to get to work at the Daytona test (January 4-7) with Oz, Mark, AJ, and Justin working together to find the fastest compromise possible amongst them."
Michael Shank Racing scored three podium finishes in 2005, with Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. taking to the rostrum at California Speedway in the Mears Motor Coach Machine, which also nabbed third at Barber Motorsports Park with Borkowski sharing the driving duties with Kenny Wilden. The sister Flight Options Lexus-Riley machine of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri ran a limited schedule in 2005, but that didn't prevent the duo from impressing with a pole position at Laguna Seca and a third-place finish at Watkins Glen in August.
The team, which scored two podium results in 2004, is putting in the work now in the off-season in anticipation of more podium appearances to come.
"We are really excited about 2006," said Shank. "Obviously right now we are focused on being as competitive in the 24 as possible, but we are also preparing for the entire season as well. We feel like we have everything we need to be successful-good equipment, good drivers, and good corporate partners to support the program, so we are putting in a few extra late nights here in the off-season which will hopefully pay off for us in the summer."
The upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona is expected to be one of the most competitive ever, and Michael Shank Racing is looking to find an advantage wherever possible.
"We did a few driver changes at the test, but it was mostly just to get AJ and Justin familiar with what happens each time we make that swap," said Shank. "We will be focusing more on the driver changes at the test and in every free minute we have leading up to the start of the race. We are also working on some smaller details, like optimizing the layout of our pit equipment so we can be as efficient as possible, and ready for anything that might come up during the 24. It's going to be so close that we are looking at everything we do to and trying to figure out how we can do it better, even if its just to save half a second a stop, because every advantage is going to help."
The team will announce plans for the second Daytona Prototype and the 2006 season at the Daytona Test Days January 4-7.
Michael Shank Racing 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 joined the Rolex ranks in 2004, leading the first race it entered and making two podium appearances with drivers Burt Frisselle and Oswaldo Negri, Jr.