Pataskala, Ohio (29 May 2012) – Coming off a hard-fought podium finish of third at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Michael Shank Racing aims to carry that momentum into this weekend’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series debut through the streets of Detroit for Round 5 of the championship. The Belle Isle event will also feature the IZOD IndyCar Series on the weekend.
John Pew and Ozz Negri will team in the No. 60 LiveOn Ford-Riley as the driving duo enter the race weekend third in the championship standings. The Detroit race marks a resurrection of the event, as the Rolex Sports Car Series makes its first-ever appearance at the race in its first street race since the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2006.
Though new to the circuit, Pew and Negri are no strangers to street course racing with both having raced on various temporary tracks in the open-wheel ranks. Negri scored a fifth place finish for Michael Shank Racing in the 2006 Long Beach Grand Prix. The pair will look to put that experience to good use when the team looks to find speed early on in the condensed weekend schedule that will see just two practice sessions ahead of qualifying on Friday.
“This track is new for everyone, so the key to the race will be to find the sweet spot quickly,” said Negri, who recently completed his first Ironman triathlon. “Sharing the race weekend with IndyCar means we really won’t have much track time to work with. We’ve been working hard though to have a set-up that we think will be a good starting point, and hopefully we can pick up speed through the weekend.”
While a pair of promising outings fell prey to some bad racing luck following the huge Rolex 24 win to open the season, the team has shown strong pace at every track so far during the 2012 season. Key to the team’s strategy has been Pew’s strong qualifying efforts, which have regularly been backed up by competitive race day stints.
“It’s an exciting challenge--not only to race on a temporary street circuit, but also to learn a new track,” said Pew, who enters the weekend just 32 points adrift of the lead in the Pro-Am championship. “Hitting your marks perfectly is important no matter where you go, but having the walls on both sides of the track just adds to that incentive! The big thing for us will be to have a clean race weekend and hopefully come out of here with some solid points ahead of the team’s home race at Mid-Ohio.”
The event marks the home race for Shank’s long-time partner Ford, giving the squad even more motivation for yet another strong result in this weekend’s race.
“We might struggle a little bit with the rules package as it is, as Corvettes have more downforce and this is exactly the kind of track where you will need that,” said team owner Mike Shank. “But we’ll go in and do the absolute best that we can. Going to a new track is a big challenge for our engineering staff, but it’s exactly the kind of challenge they relish-we’ve got a new notebook to start for this track and hopefully we unload with a car that’s got the balance Ozz and John need. It’s great to be racing in Ford’s home town and we’re really hoping to bring them a great finish in their own backyard.”
Michael Shank Racing currently sits third in the team championship with the 2012 season highlighted by their historic Rolex 24 win and their podium finish in New Jersey. The team has completed 99.61% of laps so far this season with the No. 60 machine notching 1,031 of 1,035 race laps.