Phoenix: Michael Shank Racing preview

MSR eager to keep up momentum in Phoenix Michael Shank Racing, fresh off of its podium performance in February at Homestead, is looking to continue its fine form this weekend in the Food City 250 at Phoenix International Raceway for round...

MSR eager to keep up momentum in Phoenix

Michael Shank Racing, fresh off of its podium performance in February at Homestead, is looking to continue its fine form this weekend in the Food City 250 at Phoenix International Raceway for round three of the Rolex Sports Car championship season. MSR scored third place in round two of the championship, and the result marked the teams first appearance on the podium in just their second race in Daytona Prototype competition, as MSR's veteran squad has adapted quickly to the Rolex format with drivers Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle behind the wheel of the Lexus-powered Doran machine.

The strong result moved MSR up into third in the overall championship standings, and the team has been hard at work to improve the car in preparation for the Phoenix race. MSR has led at least one lap in both races entered so far, including leading Lexus' first lap in Rolex DP competition during the 24 Hours at Daytona, and will look to continue that streak, with the goal being leading the all-important final lap.

The Phoenix layout is very tight, with the Daytona Prototypes clicking off laps in less than one minute over the 1.51-mile distance of the 11-turn infield road course. With three different classes of cars racing at the same time, the traffic will be a major factor.

Frisselle, who has won races at this track previously in Skip Barber Race Series competition, is hoping to take the lessons he learned in his first Rolex race, where he quickly adapted to several new elements--driver changes, pit stops, and racing with multiple classes of race cars on the same track--and knows that the team will also keep improving.

"This is kind of like when NASCAR races at Bristol, with big fast cars on a small track, but it should be a lot of fun," said Frisselle. "There were a lot of things for me to take in at Homestead beyond just learning the car, so I hope we are going to be able to put all those things to work for us here and get another good result. This track is very physical, and the traffic is going to be an issue, but we are feeling very confident for a good result."

Negri believes that it won't be just speed that is important this weekend.

"It's a very tight track, so I think patience will play a big role during the race," said Negri. "The team has been working very hard on the car, and we are feeling very confident after our first podium at Homestead, and are hoping to just continue to move up the podium!"

Team owner Michael Shank echoes his drivers sentiments, as he knows the competition level of the Daytona Prototype class, which will see the class grow to nineteen cars this weekend, is very high and keeps improving, but he knows that his team is up to the task.

"We have been working really hard on the race car this last month and so we hope to see those efforts produce some results this weekend," said Shank. "The competition is very, very, close in the category and running on such a small track like this is going to be a fight every lap, but we know we have a good package with our drivers, the car, and the crew, so we will be looking for another good result."

The Food City 250 is scheduled to be broadcast live on Speed Channel beginning at 9 p.m. ET on April 10th . Practice begins on Thursday, April 8 with qualifying set for Friday.

-msr-

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Series GRANDAM