Michael Shank Racing Returns to Road America
Coming off of a hard-fought fourth place finish at Watkins Glen in the Sahlan’s Six Hour event, Michael Shank Racing will look to return to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series podium this Saturday as the Daytona Prototypes debut at Road America for round 7 of the 2011 championship. The event will also feature the NASCAR Nationwide Series on the weekend.
John Pew and Ozz Negri will team in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley as the duo aim to build momentum through the second half of the GRAND-AM season.
The GRAND-AM visit to Road America marks the first race appearance for the Daytona Prototype machines at the legendary Wisconsin track, but Michael Shank Racing will look to put the team’s experience--new and old-- at the track to good use.
Michael Shank Racing competed at the Wisconsin venue frequently in formula car competition before moving to GRAND-AM full time in 2004.
“I’ve got a lot of laps at Road America from my days racing in the SCCA and Atlantics, so I know why my drivers are so eager to get up there and get going!” said team owner Mike Shank, who turned in his helmet to focus on team ownership after finding success in Formula Atlantic. “We’ve always loved going to Road America through the years. The track is awesome and the fans are just unbelievable. It’s a great event, and I think it will be a big show with NASCAR there this weekend so we are happy to be there and be a part of it.”
The more recent experience came in a two-day test as Pew and Negri took to the track to learn what a DP needs to be fast around the famed “Kink,” “Hurry Downs” and “Carousel” corners that are part of the challenging layout.
Even before the test, both Pew and Negri knew their way around the 4-mile circuit. Pew raced formula car machines against the likes of IndyCar racers Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, and Raphael Matos on his way to the Masters Championship in Star Mazda, while Negri had experience at the track in his role as test driver for Formula BMW and the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
“It is a beautiful place to race, and there are some sections that are just my favorite of anywhere in the world, so I’m very much looking forward to the weekend,” said Pew. “We had a very productive test and hopefully we can unload with a quick car just the way we have been in the last few races. It is going to be very important to avoid traffic in qualifying, because with a lap this long, you will only have a few chances to get it right in the session. There are some places like the long run into turn five where traffic won’t be an issue, and then some places where you will have to get your timing just right, especially with the GTs. It’s great that GRAND-AM is going there and I’m very excited to get back in the car and get going.”
After opening the year with a run to 10th at Daytona International Speedway, Pew and Negri have built the results through the year to date with two sixth place finishes, a runner-up finish at Lime Rock Park, and the run to fourth at Watkins Glen that saw the No. 60 Crown Royal machine now having completed 1344 laps of the 1360 total run this season (98.8%).
“When they announced this track for the 2011 schedule, I just had to smile,” said Negri. “Every lap, there is just so much going on with some very, very fast sections and then some much slower corners that will hopefully be good passing opportunities. The test was productive for us, and even though we had the issues at the end of the Glen, we still came away with some points and now hopefully we can get another fast start to the weekend and pick up where we left off in the test.”