When the Daytona Prototypes visited Lime Rock Park for the first time in 2010, Michael Shank Racing drivers Brian Frisselle and Michael Valiente gave the team its second podium of the season with a third place result in the No. 6 Ford-Riley.
Negri and Pew finished seventh in the 2010 event but came back last year with a very strong outing - the No. 60 Ford-Riley returning from one lap down and Negri making up over a lap and a half on the eventual winners - to capture the best finish of season with a run to second.
Michael Shank Racing is fresh off of their fifth top-five finish of the year out West at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where another bold strategy call by the Shank squad saw the team lead 37 laps on the way to finishing fourth.
“The Mazda Raceway event was pretty exciting - our car was good, Ozz did a great job up front and the team pulled another rabbit out of the hat with some smart strategy but it was just a little bit short for the podium,” said Pew, who won the Jim Trueman award with the fourth place finish. “Lime Rock is a really special track for me because it is where I started racing. I just came out to do a three-day racing school with my son, and now, I’m back here racing Daytona Prototypes! It’s incredible. The layout also reminds me of a go-kart track in a way – it’s really, really busy the entire time and it is a fun lap.”
While Pew got his racing career started at the track, it was starting others careers that was Negri’s first exposure to the Northwest Connecticut circuit as he was a coach and test driver in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. His first race at Lime Rock saw him giving some tips to a young Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was crowned IndyCar Champion last weekend. Negri also tested Formula BMW machines at the track, but had never made a race start at Lime Rock until 2010.
“Lime Rock has very fast laps–less than one minute–and that will keep the engineers that much more on their toes because it is really easy to go down a lap if your timing isn’t right with a pit stop,” said Negri. “I can’t say enough about this Michael Shank Racing team. The guys have been making a lot of great strategy calls over the past few races and hopefully it plays out into our favor again this weekend. We’d really like to get this LiveOn Ford-Riley back up where it should be, up on the podium, to close out the year.”
Both the team and drivers have remained busy in the two weeks since the Mazda Raceway event. In addition to their usual fitness training, Pew and Negri joined fellow racers Ricky Taylor and Gustavo Yacaman for a full day of karting last week under the hot South Florida sun at Homestead-Miami Speedway’s karting facility.
Meanwhile, team owner Mike Shank gave the Mayor of Columbus, Ohio a ride in the team’s Daytona Prototype two-seater through the streets of downtown as part of a Columbus, Ohio Bicentennial celebration event. Wrapped in a special “200 Columbus” livery, the Daytona Prototype was also displayed at the Ohio State football game last weekend.
“We had a good day with Mayor Michael Coleman and there was a lot of attention on the Daytona Prototype and the Rolex Series,” said team owner Mike Shank, who recently celebrated a birthday. “The more we can get out there with the team and keep growing our connection with the market, the better. We are happy to help promote the sport and do whatever we can.”
Michael Shank Racing kicked off the year with their historic Rolex 24 At Daytona victory and have since scored two more podiums and five finishes among the top-five so far this year.
“Lime Rock can exaggerate the strategy because the laps are so quick, and I’m happy to have the guys up on the war wagon calling the race that I do,” said Shank. “I never had the chance to race at Lime Rock in my driving career, but as a team we’ve been good there in the past so hopefully we can be again on Saturday. It’s a fast place and a fast weekend so we just want to unload with a quick car and hopefully close the year out on a high note.”
Source: Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian