While there has been a brief break in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule, there has been no lack of activity for the Michael Shank Racing group, which has announced a new driver line-up, new partnerships and new sponsors since finishing the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen at the end of June.
The Ohio-based squad brings a new sponsor and a new driver line-up for the Brickyard Grand Prix event and with two strong race entries, the team is aiming to be the ones kissing the Speedway’s historic bricks with a victory in Friday’s race. The team opens a new chapter with a familiar friend this week, as Michael Shank Racing recently announced that Curb Records will sponsor both of the team’s Ford-Riley machines for the Brickyard event, with the No. 6 Tuvacol/Curb Records/AERO Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype driven by Gustavo Yacaman and AJ Allmendinger and the No. 60 Curb Records Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype piloted by longtime Michael Shank Racing drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri.
Both Yacaman and Allmendinger have prior experience on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, but will each make their first start on the road course this weekend. Yacaman claimed his first career Indy Lights pole at Indianapolis last year and went on to finish fourth in the race. He’s made four Indy Lights starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Allmendinger, whose experience with Michael Shank Racing dates back to 2006, will be pulling double duty this weekend as he is also set to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 event on Sunday. Allmendinger has led laps in both Sprint Cup and IndyCar competition at the Speedway and will look to add the Rolex Sports Car Series to that list in his road course debut at the facility.
“It is exciting to have this new pairing with Gus and AJ, and I think there is a lot of potential for us to have a strong weekend,” said team owner Mike Shank. “Both these guys are quick at the Speedway but of course this is going to be their first time on the road course, so they’ve got a little bit of homework to do before we get there!”
While Pew and Negri both raced in last year’s inaugural Indianapolis Motor Speedway Rolex Series event, the veteran drivers faced disappointment. Just moments after taking the lead in the race, contact with a GT machine caused significant damage to the No. 60 Ford-Riley and the team was forced to retire well short of the yard of Bricks.
The last two races have seen the duo demonstrate great pace, although unfortunate circumstances have kept them from the GRAND-AM podium, with two consecutive fourth place results. The two hope to turn their luck around on Friday and capture a spot on the podium at the famous Indianapolis circuit.
“While Ozz was recovering, we started to lean on John a little bit more—whether that was in testing or just helping to lead our engineering path during the race weekends,” said Shank. “He’s responded really well, and just keeps stepping up his game, time after time. And when Ozz got back in the car at Mid-Ohio, he was immediately quick, so it is just a matter of time before those two come out with a result that shows their pace.”
After the inaugural race left many breathless from an intense one-day format that featured practice, qualifying, and the race all on the same day, this year’s race features a two-day event which sees practice and qualifying on Thursday ahead of Friday’s three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix which is set to begin at 5:30 PM (ET).
Michael Shank Racing