Daytona Beach, Fla. – Defending Rolex 24 At Daytona Champions Michael Shank Racing will return to Daytona International Speedway for the 2013 season-opening GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series event with a two-car effort as the team targets a repeat victory in the prestigious twice around the clock endurance event.
Michael Shank Racing made its Rolex 24 At Daytona debut in 2004, and has fielded a multi-car campaign in every Rolex 24 event since 2006.
The defending champions could also be joined by a new face for the 24, as NASCAR pilot Marcos Ambrose is testing with the team this weekend at Daytona.
MSR’s lead pilot Negri suffered a leg injury in off-season training and the team has engaged Ambrose to possibly support the effort based on Negri’s progress back to full health. The team will monitor Negri’s condition, and will make a decision on the final line-up ahead of the race weekend.
The 2012 Rolex 24 saw the team not only score a dramatic win, but the team backed that effort up with a second podium-winning effort in the Michael Shank Racing No. 6 DPG2 Ford-Riley.
2013 will see the team once again look to show strength with both team entries, as Michael Shank Racing will debut its new No. 6 DPG3 Ford-Riley machine at the 24 hour Daytona event with endurance stand-outs Michael Valiante and Chris Cumming as well as open wheel stars Gustavo Yacaman and Jorge Goncalvez, who placed third in last year’s event with Michael Shank Racing.
“I’m thrilled to welcome back Michael (Valiante) to the team as well as Chris Cumming. They both tested with us in December and they did a great job.
We’ll just focus on the same things that were successful for us last year. I want to win every year. To repeat would be an oddity because I think it would be very difficult to do but we have very strong cars.
Our drivers know us really well. Almost all of my drivers have been with me for a long time now. We have what we think is the right combination to win the race, we just need to stay out of trouble. We have as good of a shot -or better- than a lot of people.” All nine drivers participated in the three-day Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Rolex 24 event which will be held January 24-27.
Ozz Negri, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “It’s always a pleasure to run with these guys. The first time we ran together we finished second, and the second time we finished first - so maybe this year we can finish first a lap ahead of everybody! I think we have a strong car.
If John keeps improving the way he has been improving I think we should be good. We should be a contender every race. We could have won any of the last five races last year.”
I think that will be really good. It is really great to see a bigger field in GRAND-AM too. I think everybody is really excited about the new changes and it’s going to be really exciting with more people and more classes.
It will make it more interesting. As for the year I’m looking forward to doing some more tracks and working with Ozz and a great team again.”
AJ Allmendinger, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “It’s fun to come back to the race as defending champions. For all of us, we’ve been so close to a great finish so many years and when you walk into the garage and you remember the previous year looking at the team that had won the race and now we’re that team.
So everybody is going to be gunning for us – we know that – but overall from the sounds of it, John and Ozz and everybody has made the car even better and we should have another good shot at it.”
Justin Wilson, No. 60 Ford-Riley: “I’m really looking forward to being back with the team. We had a lot of fun last year and obviously got a good result and we want to do the same again. We’re looking to repeat it and I think everyone is pretty hungry to get back at what we did last year.”
We’re all very similar in our styles and speed. It’s just going to be a whole lot of fun. If you’re going to come and try to do this race, if you can run with the team that won last year’s race then you’ve done pretty well so I’m excited about that.
Ozz (Negri) has been great. I didn’t know him from a bar of soap when I got here and he’s been really open and helpful. This team means a lot to him whether he’s behind the wheel or he’s watching from the sidelines.”
Michael Valiente, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “The first time I drove this car was at a test in Indianapolis last year and overall the car just has a bit more grip - it stops better. Everything is a little bit better which adds up to a quicker lap time.
It’s a lot of fun to drive and I always enjoy coming back to Daytona. I’m excited. To be running with the team that won the Rolex 24 last year is very exciting. So I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Chris Cumming, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “I’ve done the last two Rolex 24s here at Daytona so by now I have a lot of laps. But it’s a little bit different in every car.
It’s a great car to drive. It’s the best car I’ve ever driven. I’ve had fun testing at Daytona. There is so much history here. Every time I come here it just gives me goosebumps.”
Gustavo Yacaman, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “Coming back is very good. I know all of the team guys already and it’s not like a new experience all over again. I think there is a good vibe among everybody on the team.
The 60 car won last year and we finished third so I think we can repeat that this year and hopefully flip it around – and we get the win this year!”
Jorge Goncalvez, No. 6 Ford-Riley: “I’m very happy to come back with the same team. I think we have even more of a chance to be better than last year with the new car.
This year we have two different drivers than we did last year and I think they are two really good drivers for the 24 hour race and they are really fast. We need to concentrate on the long race. I’m really happy to be back.”
Michael Shank Racing