Mid-Ohio: Michael Shank Racing race report

Disappointing Day for Michael Shank Racing at Mid-Ohio First-lap contact from behind ruins Westfield Insurance machine's outing Valiante scores fastest lap of the race, Negri posts third quickest flyer (Mansfield, OH) 20 June 2009-With two ...

Disappointing Day for Michael Shank Racing at Mid-Ohio
First-lap contact from behind ruins Westfield Insurance machine's outing

Valiante scores fastest lap of the race, Negri posts third quickest flyer

(Mansfield, OH) 20 June 2009-With two bullet-fast Ford-Riley combinations entered for the EMCO Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Michael Shank Racing was looking to shake the bad racing luck that has hounded the team on the home track in Rolex Sports Car Series competition on Saturday.

And after leading the time sheets in several of the test sessions over the two-day race weekend, the 300 friends, family, and guests from Westfield Insurance that were on hand to support the team were all looking forward to a strong outing. But unfortunately, the bad luck reared its head only moments after the start of the race as Mark Patterson was knocked off-course and into the gravel trap on the opening lap of the race.

"That was the least gentlemanly maneuver that I've seen, and I say that even though that driver is a friend of mine," said Patterson. "We were all sliding around on that first lap, and you had to be patient getting back to power. I was running with the Brumos car no problem, but then I just got hit from behind. He didn't hit me that hard, but it doesn't matter-it was hard enough to ruin our race. It was just not necessary, and not a thinking move. We are not angry at the driver as much as just upset about what this will do to us in the points.

"We've had the most unfortunate luck at Mid-Ohio, and its most disappointing for our friends at Westfield. We had a podium car this weekend and we'd have loved to have brought them up there with us, but it was just not meant to be today."

The sister No. 6 Ford-Riley of John Pew and Michael Valiante also had to overcome some challenges to make it to the finish, but with Pew getting a strong start and Valiante setting the fastest lap of the race, the two combined to take sixth at the checkered flag. Pew's race plan was changed when he had to make an extra pit stop early in the race after running in the top 6.

"I passed a GT car going into turn seven, but then he turned into me as I went by and that flattened the tire," said Pew. "Fortunately, the team saw that instantly on the telemetry and I was exactly where I needed to be to make pit lane when they radioed me to come in. The car was really hard to drive initially-not just for me, as I could see everyone sliding around before the tires got up to temperature. It took some time, but then they got better. Michael drove his heart out and its too bad we weren't able to stick to our original plan because we could have been back on the podium today, no question."

Valiante, who was also slowed after contact from the side saw the team take extra time on a pit stop to repair a damaged rear wing rather than risk it becoming dislodged on -track, kept his head down and drove a race that was described as "bionic" by the television announcers.

"The track was a lot different from what it had been all weekend long and even though we weren't as fast today as we have been through the weekend, we still had the car to beat today," said Valiante, who looked as though he was just returning from a trip to the grocery store rather than two hours of intense Rolex racing as he got out of the car. "We had a lot of ground to make up, and I just didn't want to take too many risks but we were still able to move up at the finish."

Shank agreed with the announcers impressions of Valiante's charge.

"That was one of the best drives I've seen," said Shank. "There is no doubt that with the pace we had with these cars, we could have been 1-2 today on top of the podium. But just too much bad luck today to do that, so it's pretty disappointing. I don't know what we have to do to get the results we want to here at Mid-Ohio, but now we'll focus on Daytona and the second half of this season. We showed that we know how to win races and we've certainly had fast cars everywhere we've gone, but now we just need to put everything together and avoid this bad luck to get us back up on the top of the podium again."

The No. 60 returned to race action, with Negri playing both sportsman and speedster as he kept out of the lead pack's battle for position while setting a string of fast laps before drivetrain issues forced him back into the pits.

The team's hard work will continue on Monday as the team participates in the series open test at Mid-Ohio before returning to race action on July 4th at Daytona International Speedway for the Brumos 250.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Michael Valiante , John Pew , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing