Michael Shank Racing Set for Grand Prix of Miami; Pew and Blundell take to Homestead-Miami Speedway for qualifying
Homestead, FL (4 March 2011)- Michael Shank Racing will pursue a return to the Homestead-Miami Speedway podium from the fourth and fifth rows in the Grand Prix of Miami on Saturday after the starting grid was set with a 15 minute qualifying session on Friday.
Making only his second career Rolex Sports Car Series start, Mark Blundell will lead the team charge from eigth on the grid with the No. 23 United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing entry after setting a fast time of 1:15.117 seconds in the Ford-powered Riley that he will co-drive with Michael Valiante. After scoring a remarkable fourth place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, the No. 23 entry will look to make another big impression on Saturday for round two.
“I’m a little disappointed, especially for the team, with only P8,” said Blundell. “It was the first opportunity we’d had to run new tires and it just didn’t quite come together – perhaps I got a little too greedy and asked too much as I made a mistake on both ‘flying’ laps and paid the price. That said, with a little bit more work in the final practice session, we should have a strong racecar for tomorrow’s race.”
John Pew held up his end of the bargain in the No. 60 Crown Royal Ford-Riley as he set the ninth-fastest time of the combined GT and DP class field with a 1:15.921-second tour of the 2.3-mile oval-based road course.
“We’ve had some challenges today, but the car was the best it has been in qualifying an having new tires was a pleasure, so I’m pleased with where we are for the race,” said Pew, who considers the Grand Prix of Miami to be a home race and will share the car with Ozz Negri. Both Pew and Negri will have a healthy roster of supporters on hand for the event, including Negri’s parents who have traveled from their native Brazil to see him race in person for the first time in many years.
“It is going to be so important to be smart and conserve the tires as much as we can through the stint and I think we’ve got a good balance with the car to do that,” said Pew. “The team has done a great job once again, and hopefully we can make up a little bit for the disappointment at Daytona with a better result tomorrow.”
The team has multiple podium finishes at Homestead-Miami Speedway stretching back to the 2004 edition of the race, and the team is looking to add to that tally on Saturday.
“It was a very positive day for both cars,” said team owner Mike Shank. “We made a lot of progress, and we have the chance to keep working on some things tomorrow with one more warm up. The conditions are different from when we were here for the test and we’ve worked pretty hard to anticipate what we needed to do with the cars to be ready. We are almost where we want to be. Hat’s off to both John and Mark, a great job by both of them and now we’ll just see if we can make some progress in the race.”
Saturday’s race will go green at 12:00 PM ET local, with SPEED bringing live coverage.