Michael Shank Racing Ready for Montreal Return Columbus, OH (24 August 2010)- Michael Shank Racing will head north of the border to Montreal this weekend for the Montreal 200 as the team prepares for the penultimate round of the 2010 GRAND-AM ...
Michael Shank Racing Ready for Montreal Return
Columbus, OH (24 August 2010)- Michael Shank Racing will head north of the border to Montreal this weekend for the Montreal 200 as the team prepares for the penultimate round of the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championship. The Rolex Series event is being staged as part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series' annual visit to Montreal.
Saturday's two-hour sprint event marks the fourth visit to the 2.709-mile, 15-turn road course on the Ille de Notre Dame for the Rolex Sports Car Series, with Michael Shank Racing also having competed on the Formula 1 facility in formula car competition starting in the 1990's. The team enters the Friday-Saturday race weekend after taking top tens with both team Daytona Prototypes at Watkins Glen earlier this month, and will once again target maximum points to close out the championship season.
The No. 6 Ford-powered Dallara driver line up boasts a previous winner and a home country favorite as Brian Frisselle and Michael Valiante team up to carry the Rocky Fork Company colors. The No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley of John Pew and Oswaldo Negri enters the weekend fourth in the championship standings, just six points away from third.
The track is used but twice a year, adding to the challenge of finding the right set-up as the conditions change from session to session as the track responds to the new rubber being added to the surface every lap. The layout of the facility also adds to the challenge of finding the right balance, as a pair of long straights reward top-end speed, while grip is crucial for the many low and medium-speed corners that comprise the concrete-lined circuit.
The schedule will also add to the challenge on the weekend, as an intense day of running on Friday will see the team looking in action in seven different sessions, but Saturday will not feature a warm-up session ahead of the scheduled 2:15 PM ET race start.
While the team has a lot of experience racing in Montreal, Michael Shank Racing is still pursuing a debut podium in Rolex Series competition at the track. With victories in the season-ending 2006 race as well as a two-race win close to the 2008 season, the team has established a reputation for making strong closes to the Rolex Series season and will look to add to that legacy starting on Saturday.
"We'd love nothing more than to have both cars on the podium this weekend," said team owner Mike Shank, who saw his team narrowly miss that result earlier in the year at Mid-Ohio. "When we've hit the sweet spot with it, the 6 car has run up front. And we've been unloading with a very fast Crown Royal car all year long, so hopefully we can have a good run this weekend with both cars. For the last few years, we've finished the season on a really strong note and there is no reason why we can't do that again this year."
The No. 60 Crown Royal Ford-Riley has not just been quick, but it has also shown consistency as well, and is just one lap back from having completed the most laps this season. Sitting fourth in the team championship standings with a six point gap to P3, the ambition is clear for the team.
"Racing in Canada is always something that I look forward to," said Pew. "All the drivers do, because Montreal is a great city and of course the environment is even better when there is a race in town. Everyone gets so into it. I've had the privilege of racing formula cars there during a Formula 1 weekend, so I am really excited about the weekend. We've only got two races to go, so we have to make the most of them to strengthen our position, so hopefully Ozz and I can do just that starting on Saturday." JSince taking delivery of the Dallara in late June, the team has led three of the four races it has run with it and will look to do that once again. Frisselle brings the boost that comes with having made the ascent to the top of the Montreal podium after taking the closest victory in Rolex Series history in 2008 and backing that up with another win on the track in 2009.
"Coming to a track where you've won before always adds to your confidence and we are coming off a weekend where we just didn't find the sweet spot with the car, so we have that little bit of extra motivation," said Frisselle. "I'm really looking forward to having the Dallara on this track, and we've got a decent amount of track time to work on set up Friday. Hopefully we can unload with a quick car and just keep improving."
At nearly 5,000 kilometers, the race is as far from home as might be possible for Valiante, but the Canadian fans love their motor racing and are huge supporters of their own, with Valiante long being a fan favorite for the young driver, who also has a NASCAR Nationwide race start to his credit on the track.