Phoenix: Michael Shank Racing qualifying report

Michael Shank Racing fifth in Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ) 12 May 06-- Former Phoenix resident Mike Borkowski was looking like he was happy to be in his old hometown on Friday night, after he finished fifth in the GAINSCO Grand Prix qualifying race ...

Michael Shank Racing fifth in Phoenix

(Phoenix, AZ) 12 May 06-- Former Phoenix resident Mike Borkowski was looking like he was happy to be in his old hometown on Friday night, after he finished fifth in the GAINSCO Grand Prix qualifying race at Phoenix International Raceway. The result will see fellow Mears Motor Coach driver Antoine Bessette start fifth on the grid for the 166 lap main feature on Saturday night.

Borkowski, who started the half-hour sprint race from twelfth, made the most of every opportunity he could in the brief race, capitalizing on the restarts with some big moves forward.

"That's the best I've ever seen him do on the restarts," said team owner Mike Shank. "He just got the timing right every time, and he was quite brave to go to the outside like he did, but obviously it was really effective because he really picked up a lot of spots, and the car doesn't have a scratch on it. Antoine did a great job for us in Laguna, and now he's got a great spot to go racing from tomorrow."

Borkwoski, who was the 2003 Daytona Prototype championship runner-up, has seen the Rolex category grow into a fiercely competitive environment, and knows how important a good starting position can be on a track like Phoenix.

"These races are pretty intense!" said Borkowski. "The car was good, and everything is so close in Rolex now that you just have to capitalize when you get the chance. It's great for Antoine to be starting so close to the front, and hopefully we can stay out of trouble tomorrow night and score some more points toward the championship."

The sister Flight Options car of Mark Patterson and Oswald Negri had a difficult conclusion to the race, as the Grand Am officials interpreted a racing incident such that they felt compelled to add one minute to the car's elapsed time after the race ended. The Flight Options car had ran in the top six before contact between Negri and Christian Fittipaldi significantly altered the result for Michael Shank Racing.

"He (Fittipaldi) got loose mid-corner in seven and had to back out of the throttle, so I went to the inside, but then he got back on the power and turned into me even though there was still plenty of room on the outside, and that spun him," said Negri. "I feel bad for all the other cars that were involved, but its very frustrating that he just turned into me after making a mistake instead of giving me the room to race. I'd given him room to race a few corners before, but he gave me no room whatsoever, and it's very frustrating because we would have had a top five tonight and could have moved up more in the points."

After the penalty was applied, the Flight Options car was relegated to seventeenth in the finishing order for Saturday night's race. Mark Patterson will have his work cut out for him in the opening stages of the race, but the South African racer has put in just that kind of performance before, and has taken to the Phoenix track with alacrity in his first visit to the desert bullring.

-msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Mike Borkowski , Antoine Bessette , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing