(Phoenix, AZ) 13 May 06-- On a day that started out with the team being notified upon their arrival at the track that driver Oswaldo Negri was suspended for the event, Michael Shank Racing did not enjoy much luck in the GAINSCO Grand Prix at ...
(Phoenix, AZ) 13 May 06-- On a day that started out with the team being notified upon their arrival at the track that driver Oswaldo Negri was suspended for the event, Michael Shank Racing did not enjoy much luck in the GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway. Due to Negri's one-race suspension, Rod MacLeod joined the team for the event to share the Flight Options car with Mark Patterson, with Patterson taking the green flag for the 149-lap event.
Patterson posted another strong stint in the Flight Options car, wheeling the Lexus-Riley through the first hour and a half of the race, and despite being spun on two occasions in the same corner by the same competitor, turned the car over to MacLeod just outside of the top ten. Even more impressive were Patterson's lap times, as the South African's best lap was well within two seconds of the fastest lap of the race. MacLeod took over the controls on a well-timed full course caution, but suffered from contact from another car, and was forced to work back up the order to cross the line in sixteenth position.
The sister Mears Motor Coach Lexus-Riley of Antoine Bessette and Mike Borkowski got off to a promising start, but suffered a disappointing and early conclusion to the Phoenix event.
Bessette started from fifth on the grid, and got through the start cleanly. After losing a spot in the early laps, Bessette looked like an experienced Rolex racer as he made a strong outside pass for position after using the slower GT traffic as a pick. Bessette continued to run in the top six until he was following a DP through some GT traffic, and learned a hard lesson about the variable skill levels in some of the GT cars.
"He just didn't see me and turned right into me as if I wasn't there," said a disappointed Bessette. "But in the end it was my fault because I was pushing to stay in the front, and I just took too big of a risk. I feel really bad for Mike (Borkowski) and the team because obviously we were in a good position."
With the exception of a strong second place finish in the qualifying race at Laguna Seca for Negri in the Flight Options car, the west coast swing of the Rolex Sports Car Series has not been a kind one to the Michael Shank Racing squad, which will be looking to rebound in two weeks' time at Watkins Glen, a track that has generated two podium appearances for the team
"Antoine had another good run going before the contact, so it was just a shame that he got unlucky there," said Shank. "Mark did a great job and ran fast laps deep into the race for us, and we were glad Rod was able to step in for us like he did. These were tough conditions for him to just jump in the car like he had to, but he brought it home for us, and now we'll get back to the shop and get ready for the Glen and look for some better luck."
The race will be broadcast on Speed Channel on a tape-delayed basis starting at 3:00 PM ET on Sunday.