Watkins Glen, New York - Michael Shank Racing will be eager to flip the calendar forward to July and the next chance to go racing after fighting through a tough month of June in Rolex Sports Car Series competition. On Sunday, the team combined strong pace, great teamwork, and excellent strategy along with a ton of very hard work as Watkins Glen staged the 32nd annual Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
But, the team that has suffered several gut-punches on track this month saw the script flipped as a momentary spin by the leading car forced Negri to go off course to avoid contact, ruining the race for Negri as the excursion forced an extra pit stop to clear up the radiator from the grass that was packed in the radiator.
The moment cut short what looked to be a storybook day, and instead saw the team come home with its sixth fourth place finish in the Glen 6 Hour.
"It looked like we had them there,” said Pew, who also collected the Trueman Award for his efforts. “I think we had a great strategy and we had a definite podium, maybe a second place for sure. It's just unfortunate that that happened. I didn't see it so I don't know exactly what happened.
The car was good. I felt pretty good in the car and I felt good doing long stints. I had some fast people in front of me and I just tried to keep that gap. Sometimes the traffic would separate us a little bit, but it was a lot of fun. The guys gave us a really good car and it's all good."
The charge to the finish was part of the recovery that started after Negri ran in podium contention early in the race, but was knocked off track by the No. 10 machine that was circulating several laps down. Negri had to bring the No. 60 Dunn Tire DP to the pits to clear off the radiators, returning the the field 10th with a car that did not handle the same.
“Our car was fantastic before the race,” said Negri. I got hit by Max (Angelelli). I am very upset about that. He was four laps down and it damaged our car at the front end. He had no business hitting me. The steering was not right from there on out. The car was really ‘pointy’ from that point.
After that it was just working with the bars and putting my head down and driving everything out of the car. I was getting closer to (leader) Christian (Fittipaldi) and he made a few mistakes and he had gone off that corner before. I was putting pressure on but trying to save tires and I got really close but he went off and over corrected and came into my path so I had no where to go.
He didn’t do anything on purpose that was just how that happened. It was unfortunate. Just kept pushing hard. The car was really good, and I wanted to go win the race for these guys.”
The sister No. 6 Ford-Riley of Wilson and Yacaman also had a strong race outing through a range of rain and dry conditions, but circumstances also dealt a tough hand for the duo, who finished the race sixth in the final standings. Wilson opened the race from behind the wheel and had the Ford-Riley in podium contention for much of his long opening stint before turning the car over to Yacaman.
Both drivers had to put their aggressive personal training to good use, as the water system on the car prevented them both from taking in fluids during their drives. The Colombian used his previous knowledge of the track to keep the blue No. 6 well placed in the field.
Wilson took control for the final stages of the race as the conditions changed with each lap. A long green run to the checkered flag saw one last pit stop for fuel as Wilson crossed the line in sixth.
"The first five hours of the race were insignificant,” said Yacaman. “I was just hanging around and the race got decided on that last restart after all of the rain off and on. The race was decided then.
Ozz went to the front and we weren't able to move that well and we had to gamble on fuel and hope for a yellow that never came so we ended up where we ended up. It was too bad, but on to Indy and hopefully we make things better there and get that podium that the team really deserves."
"I thought the car was great and the team did a great job,” said Wilson. “We gambled a little bit on that strategy trying to see if we could find something. It just didn't work out, but we tried it. I love the Glen and it was great to be back here.
It was tough work in the car without the cool suit or drink bottle, but I just fought through it to get to the finish. Thanks to the team for the weekend--it wasn’t the result we were hoping for but we certainly had a solid car underneath us.”
“Where do you start?” lamented team owner Mike Shank. “The first thing really is just the effort all my guys put in, all this month. It’s incredible, we rebuilt two cars entirely, and every time we showed up at the track we unloaded with quick cars. Just a testament to this whole group.
So it was really encouraging to see Ozz chasing the leader down there, I think he had him where he wanted him and we were in a good position but it all came undone there at the end. It would have been great to see those guys on the podium after that effort. Same with the six car. Justin and Gus didn’t have any water so they were up against it today.”
Michael Shank Racing will be back in racing action July 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Michael Shank Racing