Lexington,Ohio (15 June 2013) – When Michael Shank Racing arrived at their home track of Mid-Ohio for Round 6 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship, the team had been hoping to deliver a strong result in front of the many hometown fans, friends, and family as well as the guests of corporate sponsor Roberts Electrical who were in attendance for the event.
And the team did just that when John Pew and Ozz Negri combined for a welcome run to fourth place in the No. 60 Roberts Electrical Ford-Riley after the team spent countless hours in the weeks leading up to Mid-Ohio repairing the racecar which had sustained significant damage in the previous round at Detroit.
The team was thrilled to welcome back Negri after he had to sit out the previous three rounds of Rolex Series competition due to an offseason training injury.
Pew opened the race from ninth on the grid after setting a qualifying time less than a second off the pole-winning time. He continued to show his strength behind the wheel of the No. 60 Roberts Electrical machine as he clicked off quick and consistent lap times – only a half a second off the leaders - around the 2.238-mile road course.
The Roberts Electrical Ford-Riley appeared to be well on its way to a podium finish with Negri immediately returning to his competitive form and moving up to run third in the closing stages of the race. Giving chase for second place, Negri had to peel off for a splash of fuel with just seven minutes left to go in the race.
Though the stop was very quick, the time spent driving at the pit lane speed limit was enough to see the Roberts machine slip one spot down the order to take the checkered flag fourth in line.
“The team helped me so much with a good car - I pushed very, very hard,” said Negri. “The team told me I needed a massive outlap and I pushed as hard as I could – I did not think about the tires being cold. I just thought about being confident and pushed very hard and it helped us leapfrog a few cars. Fourth is a great comeback. John, what can I say about John? I think this was his best race ever. He kept close to the leaders most of the time. He did a pro job like I’ve never seen. I’m so proud of John. I’m so proud of my crew and the support I get from them. Michael Shank Racing is my second family. I also want to thank my doctors- Jonathan Hersh, Matt Cooper, and Dr. Guillermo Valenzuela. I am so blessed to have support like I do from this team and from my family.”
While the team celebrated Ozz’s comeback throughout the weekend as well as the positive fourth place result in the race, the team faced a very disappointing day with the No. 6 Ford-Riley of Gustavo Yacaman and Antonio Pizzonia.
Yacaman had opened the race from eighth on the grid and was fighting for the seventh position when the No. 6 MSR Ford-Riley made contact with the No. 01 Daytona Prototype. The contact punctured a tire on the MSR machine and Yacaman went off track and through the gravel trap which in turn ruptured the oil line. The Colombian was helpless as the Riley was soon engulfed in flames, causing severe damage.
Despite the setback suffered by the No. 6 car, team owner Mike Shank was extremely proud of the work the entire team did all weekend long.
“I don’t even know what to say - words can’t describe how well they did today,” said Shank of Pew and Negri’s performance. “John Pew had the drive of his life. Great strategy, great call to try to get on the podium, but it’s just tough because we have such devastation with the No. 6 car. It was so great to have Roberts Electrical on board with us this weekend. I’m just super happy for John and Ozz, and we’ll figure out whether we can get to Watkins Glen or not with the No. 6 car.”
The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series makes its next stop in upstate New York at Watkins Glen International for Round 7 of the championship.
Michael Shank Racing