Pew and Negri combine to lead 27 laps before flat tire ends run to podium
Watkins Glen, New York (11 August 2012) - Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian rode the ups and downs of a Rolex Sports Car Series roller coaster on Saturday night at Watkins Glen International, but the ride unfortunately ended on a low for the Rolex 24 At Daytona Champions. A flat tire while Ozz Negri ran in second place with less than 30 minutes remaining in the race ended the chances for a return to the Watkins Glen podium.
John Pew started the race from ninth on the grid and moved up to seventh in the opening stages of the 2-hour sprint race. A full course caution at the 28 minute mark meant that the team had to hold off on a pit stop to make sure Pew got the full allotment of driver points before he took to pit lane.
With the green flag waving as Pew peeled off from the lead, the team had to work quickly to get Negri in the car and on his way. Alas, the quick pit work didn’t translate into track position as a GRAND-AM official determined that the team had made a procedural error and held the car for an added time before setting Negri free.
Fortunately, the team got a positive break as a full course caution helped Negri recoup the lost track position. Further, the subsequent pit stop saw the team leapfrog the field ahead of the Lap 39 restart. Negri powered into the sunset, leading the pack for 24 laps. Unfortunately, the final pit stop set in motion the end of the strong run.
“I radioed within a lap that something wasn’t right with the tire,” said Negri. “I was having to lift at the top of the esses and was only barely able to not crash the car through all those laps. Unfortunately, whatever was wrong with it eventually gave up and the tire went.”
A final and extra pit stop for a new set of tires ended the team’s chances at a podium after having run so strongly.
“I thought we were going to have a little change of fortune there,” said Pew about the early stages of the race after the team rebounded from the early setback. “It was great strategy and the team got Ozz out there in the lead. But we just had some bad luck there with the tire. I’m not sure what happened with the tire--Just not sure what to say. We had a great car and we led a lot today, but it just wasn’t our day.”
The Saturday night shootout was a great show for the NASCAR Sprint Cup fans on hand for the race, with close dicing throughout the field. But after such a promising outing, the team will look for better luck next week.
“The strategy actually worked to our favor, but I was just really disappointed in the (penalty) call on our one stop,” said team owner Mike Shank, who was fortunately not injured when he fell as he moved to the pit wall to find out why the car was being held in pit lane. “We came back from that, led the race, and we were in good position for a podium finish. But, then we weren’t. We had a flat and that was it. That’s the end of the story. We’ve been in a position to podium almost every weekend now. But, then we’ve just had stuff like this happen. Despite the outcome, it was great work by the guys today. The flat tire just killed it for us, so we just rode it out and we’ll head to Montreal. It’s tough to take, but what a good day for Ford Racing.”
“It was great to have a car that was so strong and led the race as much as we did,” added Negri. “We knew we had a good car and it was good to show that today. Great strategy from the engineers too. But with the problem we had with the tire, it is very hard to take, but we will keep fighting.
Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will be back in Rolex Sports Car Series action one week from today as the team heads north to Canada for the Montreal Grand Prix, with the broadcast set for 7 PM ET on SPEED.
Source: Michael Shank Racing