Mid-Ohio: Lexus preview

LEXUS' HOMETOWN HEROES RETURN TO MID-OHIO TORRANCE, Calif. (June 20, 2006) -- Technically, there is no home-field advantage in racing as there is in other major American sports, but don't tell that to the Lexus-powered entries in this weekend's...

LEXUS' HOMETOWN HEROES RETURN TO MID-OHIO

TORRANCE, Calif. (June 20, 2006) -- Technically, there is no home-field advantage in racing as there is in other major American sports, but don't tell that to the Lexus-powered entries in this weekend's EMCO Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

For Michael Shank Racing (MSR), central Ohio doesn't simply provide a home track, but it's actually home for the Columbus-based team. After previously competing in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, team owner Michael Shank has methodically grown the team once affectionately known as "the little team that could" into one of the strongest teams in the Rolex Sports Car Series. Beginning with a one car effort in 2004, Shank moved up to one full-time and one part-time entry in 2005 and is now running two Lexus-Rileys for the entire 2006 campaign. After opening the season with a second-place overall finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, MSR has registered six top-five finishes and been on the podium three times.

Leading the way for MSR this weekend is the #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley driven by Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson. Coming off its fourth top-five finish of the season at Watkins Glen, the #60 has risen to eighth in team points heading into Mid-Ohio. In addition to their fourth at the Glen, the team also has a pair of seconds and a fifth-place finish to its credit in 2006. They'll be joined in the MSR stable by the #6 Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach entry for Mike Borkowski and Tommy Constantine.

While Scott Pruett's ties to Ohio may not run quite as deep as Shank's, he will forever be linked to Ohio racing lore as a former driver for the TrueSports team owned by the late Jim Trueman, who's family still owns the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today. Pruett's first full-time CART effort came with TrueSports where he earned 1989 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors, as well as capturing nine top-10 finishes to place eighth-place overall in the series.

Of course, Pruett's time with TrueSports isn't his lone connection to Mid-Ohio and Columbus. He will make his 18th career start at Mid-Ohio, where he has won in three different classes (IMSA GTO, Trans-Am and Daytona Prototypes) and had seven top-four finishes. In addition, Pruett also won his first-ever IMSA GTP race at the now defunct Columbus street race in 1987.

Pruett will team with Luis Diaz in the #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley this weekend as the duo enter this weekend's action in second-place in the series point standings with three 2006 victories to their credit.

Lexus currently holds a 13-point lead in the Manufacturer's Championship as Pontiac, Porsche and BMW are in the fight for second heading into this weekend's action. In addition, with four victories this season, Lexus-powered entries have now won 12 races and 18 pole positions in 34 Rolex Series events since entering the series in 2004.J J Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic will be shown on tape delay on Sunday, June 25 at 3 p.m. Friday's Daytona Prototype qualifying session is scheduled at 4:25 p.m. (all times Eastern).

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Mike Borkowski , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank , Tommy Constantine
Teams Michael Shank Racing