Hard-fought finish for Michael Shank Racing at Miller Alternator problem spoils possible podium for No. 60 entry as No. 6 returns to top ten form yet again (Tooele, UT) 15 September 2007-- As it became clear that driver Oswaldo Negri would have...
Hard-fought finish for Michael Shank Racing at Miller
Alternator problem spoils possible podium for No. 60 entry as No. 6 returns to top ten form yet again
(Tooele, UT) 15 September 2007-- As it became clear that driver Oswaldo Negri would have to pit yet again, team owner Mike Shank could only shake his head in frustration after nearly seven hours of racing in the SunChaser 1000K at Miller Motorsports Park for the Rolex Sports Car Series season finale.
The No. 60 Lexus-Riley of Negri, Mark Patterson, and Justin Wilson, was hoping to race into the Millers winners circle for the second year in a row, but after an alternator belt became dislodged early in the race, the team was forced to stop to make five battery changes to keep the car moving forward.
The motor issue was particularly frustrating given the great pace shown by the driving threesome. Making matters worse was that it had happened multiple times during the season, including once when it took the 60 out of the lead at Daytona and then again from the lead at Watkins Glen. On Saturday, the problem cost the team one position in the team championship standings to close out the season.
"I'm just really disappointed," said Negri."I put in a mega effort and we were quick today, quick enough to be on the podium but it just didn't work out, really disappointing. It's one thing to have a problem when you are running back in the pack, but to have such a good car but have to spend so much time in the pits, it was a frustrating way to end out the season. I have to thank the team because they put so much effort into the car all season, they should be really proud of themselves."
Patterson demonstrated this weekend that he ought to be eligible for some form of ironman award to go with his Trueman Award from last year after recovering from a serious bicycle accident and putting in a strong performance behind the wheel of the distinctive orange and black Riley.
"I am just glad the team let me drive this weekend!" said Patterson. "I loved being out there and just getting into a good rhythm and keeping a good pace. Very satisfying. It's a shame what happened with the battery problem because we could have been on the podium again here no question. But at least Oz was able to work back to tenth after a great fight today, and it was great to see the 6 car finish the season so well."
The Miller event also marked the return of Justin Wilson to the team, and Champ Car's most recent winner clearly enjoyed himself during the weekend, even though the alternator problem muted the outcome somewhat.
"I had a lot of fun racing these cars again," said Wilson, who took a podium in his one previous Rolex start with the team in 2006. "I enjoy racing with this team and hopefully we can do this again."
The sister Playboy-liveried machine of Henri Zogaib, John Pew, and Ian James finished a fighting seventh after 139 laps of racing as James scorched his final stint to bring home the tenth top ten of the season for the No. 6.
"I couldn't be happier-Michael Shank Racing is always on their game," said Zogaib, who returned to action with the team for the first time since March. "Ian (James) is the best coach I could ask for and obviously he had a flawless drive today. This was a great way to close out the year."
The Miller event was not the first time on the 4.5-mile circuit for Pew, who raced in Utah previously in formula car competition. The Florida resident put in two strong stints to help bring the No. 6 into top ten contention once again.
"I had fun out there-the car wasn't perfect the whole time, but it was good to get some long runs in today," said Pew. "Ian did another great job today even though the conditions were pretty tough out there by the end. It's been great racing with this team and working with Ian. I was looking forward to making the move up to the Daytona Prototypes and I really have enjoyed the season so I want to thank the team for all their efforts."
"The car was moving around a lot under braking out there because there was so much debris on the track," said James. "It was a bit hard to manage, but I was just licking my chops when we had that last restart and we were able to pick up some positions to close out the race and the season."
The 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series season takes the green flag on January 26, but for Michael Shank Racing, the next season starts tomorrow.
"After the way the race ended up here last year, we obviously had some high hopes for today," said Shank. "And our cars I think showed the kind of pace that would have put us in a strong position if we didn't have the problem that we did. I'm proud of my guys and the effort and attention to detail that they all put in this year. We wanted more than we got today, but we'll get a good night sleep tonight and then start thinking about how to do better next year."