Pew and Negri Look Forward to Detroit Debut for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian
Detroit, Mich. (1 June 2012) – Michael Shank Racing will start the GRAND-AM Detroit 200 from the fifth row after John Pew qualified the No. 60 LiveOn Ford-Riley ninth in Friday’s 15-minute qualifying session as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is set to stage a debut race through the streets of Belle Isle.
Friday opened under extremely wet conditions as rain enveloped the downtown Detroit street circuit and the Daytona Prototypes took to the track for the first time. The day saw a condensed schedule as the Rolex Series shared the track with the IZOD IndyCar Series, but despite the limited track time combined with the rain, the Shank squad took full advantage of learning the new circuit with both Pew and Negri taking laps around the 2.1-mile temporary street course.
With the weather finally clearing following the day of rain, the Rolex Series took to the course for the15-minute qualifying session for the first time on slicks and Pew managed a fast lap time of 1:26.166-seconds despite struggling with some high-speed understeer during the session.
He will open the 2-hour event before handing the controls over to co-driver Ozz Negri who will take the Ford-powered machine to the finish in front of Ford’s hometown crowd.
“I was relearning the car all over again,” said Pew of the qualifying session as he was getting his first chance to run on slick Continental Tires on the dry pavement. “We changed the gearing and I had a lot of new information to be working with! But the good news is that they were good changes and we’re learning quickly. My fastest lap was my last one because I was learning throughout the session. I lost grip at the end of the session so if I would have had the knowledge at the beginning it would have been better!”
The team took what they learned during the first practice and made some positive changes to the car which saw the No. 60 top the time charts as the track began to slowly dry out during the second session.
“The car was good - we did quite a few changes from the first session to this session and the car responded well,” said Negri after setting the fastest time in the mixed-conditioned second practice. “I think we nailed the changes. We are feeling more and more confident. It’s a new track and it’s equal for everybody. I really wanted to do a clear lap, and got a couple in. In terms of starting out with a new track, it’s equal for everybody and fortunately our friend Justin Wilson helped me out with some ideas before we got here.”
Following Michael Shank Racing’s podium finish in the previous round at New Jersey, the team looks for another strong result this weekend as they currently sit third in the championship.
“It is tough assignment to basically be seeing the track in those conditions for the first time in qualifying, which is what John had to do today,” said team owner Mike Shank. “So he was pushing hard while also learning what the car is actually capable of with slicks and a dry track. So by the time he had that sorted out, we were a little past the window with the tires so he wasn’t able to take advantage. But it will be useful at the start of the race, no question and it was good we were able to get so many laps in during qualifying. We will see what the weather brings tomorrow, and just look to come out of here with as many points as possible.”