It is a home race for Michael Shank Racing, and the team is bringing a new sponsor and a whole lot of friends to the Diamond Cellar Classic this weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Roberts has been serving the Central Ohio area for over three decades, and has teamed with Mike Shank for the Diamond Cellar Classic. “I’m an Ohio boy, so to have a sponsor that comes right from our back yard is really cool,” said team owner Mike Shank. “It is really exciting to bring a new group into the sport like this and hopefully we can show them a really good time.
They are going to have a lot of guests and we are really excited about the weekend because this is our home race, home track, and now we’ve got our home town sponsor here as well so it’s going to be a really a big weekend for us.”
Michael Shank Racing once again boasts a strong driver line up as the team welcomes back Ozz Negri to co-drive with John Pew in the No. 60 Roberts MSR Ford-Riley after sitting out the three previous rounds due to an off-season training injury.
Former open-wheel racers Gustavo Yacaman and Antonio Pizzonia will share driving duties in the No. 6 Ford-Riley as the driving duo makes their fifth start together this year.
While the visit to Mid-Ohio will be the first for Pizzonia, he’ll at least have a partner to lean on as Yacaman has raced at the track before. The young Colombian has two Mid-Ohio starts already under his belt while racing in the Indy Lights with a best finish of 10th in 2009.
Though new to GRAND-AM, the hard-charging pair has delivered several strong performances through the first half of the season including a fourth place result at Road Atlanta.
The Michael Shank Racing squad has pushed hard over the past nine days, working countless hours to repair the No. 60 machine after it sustained significant damage during the previous round at Detroit.
"It has been an incredible effort from the whole team to get the 60 car ready to go this week after the accident in Detroit," said Shank. "Between some appearances here in Columbus, some media opportunities and of course having Roberts come on board, we already had a packed schedule on top of our regular race weekend preparation.
So we had to just take a moment to lay out what our plan was for every day and what the jobs that needed to get done were, and go from there. It's been a lot of work but the guys have rallied for sure and we will be ready to go."
Pew and Negri will be looking for redemption in front of the team’s hometown crowd on Saturday after a very disappointing home race last year in which an unfortunate first-lap incident with the No. 8 Daytona Prototype saw Pew, who opened the race from seventh on the grid, pushed off track in the third corner. The No. 60 machine was sent into the wall and the car sustained significant rear end damage.
Despite the poor handling of the badly damaged car, the Shank squad carried out flawless pit stops with both Pew and Negri displaying impressive performances behind the wheel of the ill-handling Ford-Riley to rally for an eighth place finish.
"This is the second time in the last few years that we've had something like this to overcome, and hopefully we can convert all this effort into a big result," said Shank. "Being back at Mid-Ohio is always a highlight for our whole team and even though we've had to dig deep to be ready, we are all looking forward to getting going on Friday."
So with a new partner, another strong driver line-up, a freshly repaired No. 60 machine and a lot of motivation to succeed at home, Michael Shank Racing is hoping to gain some new hardware with a visit to the Mid-Ohio podium on Saturday.
Michael Shank Racing