Questionable calls cost Michael Shank Racing victory in Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ) 10 September 05--Michael Shank Racing took their fifth top-five finish of the season, but the result was a severe disappointment for the Ohio-based team after leading...
Questionable calls cost Michael Shank Racing victory in Phoenix
(Phoenix, AZ) 10 September 05--Michael Shank Racing took their fifth top-five finish of the season, but the result was a severe disappointment for the Ohio-based team after leading nearly thirty laps but being penalized twice during the 166-lap Racetickets.com 250 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night with Mike Borkowski and Oswaldo Negri combining for what otherwise would have been a race-winning effort.
The Mears Motor Coach Machine started from the front row with Borkowski at the wheel, and as the field took the green flag, the polesitters car got loose entering the first corner, and Borkowski was unable to avoid making contact with the leader's car. The team was forced to serve a one-minute stop and hold penalty despite the fact that the contact was unintentional and unavoidable.
"There was no grip on the track at the start of the race, and he just got loose going into the first corner and it slowed him down enough that I hit him," said Borkowski. "There was nothing I could do. The penalty did not fit the crime at all, and there was no consistency to the calls they made tonight."
But Borkowski, who was the 2003 Daytona Prototype Championship runner-up, was undeterred as he rejoined the field one lap down in twentieth position and began his charge up the order, effectively working his way through the field twice and getting back on the lead lap before turning the car over to Negri.
Negri, who took a record-setting pole position at Laguna Seca with the team earlier this year, made several bold passes to move himself up into the lead pack. Negri then stalked the race leader and made an inside pass for the lead, but the two cars made contact and the other car was unable to recover as it made a slow lazy spin.
"I had a good run on him, and I was fully committed to the inside-just like I had done on Angelelli with no problems, but he saw me and still turned in on me," said Negri. "The only mistake I guess that I made was that I tried to avoid the contact, and slowed down even more. If I hadn't, we would have hit side to side, and it would have no big deal. It's a real shame because we would have won today, no question. I want to thank Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Shank for this opportunity this weekend. I drove as hard as I could, and it's just a shame that we weren't able to get the win that we should have."
Rolex Series officials ruled that the car had to stop once again from the lead, with less than fifteen minutes remaining in the race, to serve yet another one-minute penalty in the pits. Rejoining the field with a significant deficit, Negri was able to claw back into the top five, but ran out of time to improve further as the laps wound down to close out the race.
"To have a sure victory taken from us like that-I don't know-other than someone getting hurt, there just isn't anything worse," lamented Shank. "I am really frustrated by how inconsistent the calls were tonight, and the fact that we had a win taken from us as a result of that is a huge disappointment for me and for every guy on this team that works his butt off week in and week out to be in a position to win like we were tonight. We did everything right this weekend and were running up front and had the pace to win, but just got the short end of the stick tonight."
The Speed Channel broadcast is slated for 4:00 PM ET on Sunday afternoon.