Millville: Michael Shank Racing race report

Michael Shank Racing wins Supercar Life 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park Patterson and Negri return to Victory Lane as Pew and James climb a mountain for top ten comeback (Millville, NJ) 31 August 08 - Michael Shank Racing scored a ...

Michael Shank Racing wins Supercar Life 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park

Patterson and Negri return to Victory Lane as Pew and James climb a mountain for top ten comeback

(Millville, NJ) 31 August 08 - Michael Shank Racing scored a thrilling Rolex Sports Car Series race victory in the Supercar Life 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri co-drove the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley to a .459-second win on Sunday afternoon in the penultimate round of the 2008 season.

The sister No. 6 Ford-Riley of John Pew and Ian James suffered a difficult race start, but staged a strong rally to come home a strong seventh at the finish.

The race weekend had a promising opening as the 60 machine paced the opening practice session as the Rolex Series got a some laps in on the newly and nearly finished New Jersey Motorsports Park facility. After Patterson qualified in the top ten, he got off to a smart start as speed and strategy saw him lead the field before pitting to turn the car over to Negri.

That move, which came just as the field went to green flag racing some 30 minutes into the race, forced Negri return to the track deep in the field. But once again, fast laps and smart strategy put Negri in position to make a pair of bold moves to take the lead on lap 61. After withstanding pressure in the late stages of the race, Negri grew his advantage to nearly five seconds before a yellow flag erased his gap and set up a thrilling two-lap dash to the finish as the Brazilian held firm to score the sixth-closest race win in Rolex Series history.

"This is amazing to get back to the top step of the podium again with Mark and Michael Shank Racing," said Negri, who led a race-high 45 laps. "It was a very hard race and I'm so happy to take another win. It was tough at the end of the race because there was so much pick up out there and the track was breaking up on some of the corners, so you had to place the car very carefully. I also sort of had to play cards with the cars behind to protect my position with the GT traffic and it ended up perfectly. I wasn't worried about anything on that last lap, I was just trying to work on the tires as much as I could before the restart and it worked out perfectly. I just focused forward and brought it home. We had a great start to the season with the pole at Daytona and then some setbacks so this feels fantastic and I can't wait for Miller."

The win comes on the two-year anniversary of the team's maiden victory at Miller Motorsports Park as the team once again took a win in the first Grand-Am race for a new facility.

"The car was fantastic and I turned it over to Ozz from the lead so that was a great way to start the race," said Patterson, who also collected the Jim Trueman Award Medal for the New Jersey event. "At one point, it looked as though our strategy was off, but in the end the Mike Shank guys did it again, and we were right where we wanted to be with Ozz up front and controlling the race at the end. There was a lot of aggressive racing out there, but Ozz and the whole team did a fantastic job and its great to come home with a win. Now we head off to Miller where we've won before, so hopefully we can do this all over again soon."

"This is what we've been working for all season long and to get Ford back in the winners circle is a credit to the partnership we have with Ford Racing," said team owner Mike Shank. "Obviously Ozz had a great drive today, but I think the hero who made this win possible was our fueler Tom Finley. He did an awesome job to help us get out ahead on our last stop and that was key for us today. Winning is what drives everything we do, so to have it pay off like this is just great for Mark and Ozz and all the guys and it helps us keep pushing in this championship."

Pew punted before James stages huge comeback

The New Jersey outing looked to be in dire straights for the No. 6 Ford-Riley as John Pew made a great move to avoid a spinning DP directly in front of him in the first corner, only to be punted by a different DP on the next series of corners, sending him spinning nose first into the dirt that lines the newly opened track.

Pew first used some tricks in his bag to try to clear the dirt car out of the car, but the dirty load was too great and he had to pull in to the pits to get the radiators blown out to prevent an overheating motor.

"The car was absolutely covered and I couldn't see a thing," said Pew. "There was even dirt in my blower so that was blowing dirt into my helmet and making it tough because it was getting into my contacts. So it was a frustrating start, but Ian did an awesome job after he took over, and my hat's off to Mark and Ozz on their win, that was great to see!"

The damage was severe enough that when James returned to the pits to close out his stint, the team made the move to replace the damaged nose, setting James back a lap and deep in the field. But the Englishman showed his mettle once again as Michael Shank Racing engineers called a strategy that saw him regain the lap, as he held up his end of the bargain with a hard-fought run to seventh after 105 laps.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ian James , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing