Michael Shank Racing fastest on Friday at VIR (Alton, VA) 21 April 06-- Michael Shank Racing got the VIR 400 weekend off to a quick start on Friday, carding the fastest lap of the day with a 1:45.838-second lap of the 3.27-mile Virginia ...
Michael Shank Racing fastest on Friday at VIR
(Alton, VA) 21 April 06-- Michael Shank Racing got the VIR 400 weekend off to a quick start on Friday, carding the fastest lap of the day with a 1:45.838-second lap of the 3.27-mile Virginia International Raceway in the first of two practice sessions. The Flight Options Lexus-powered Riley is once again being shared by Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri for round five of the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series.
"We have a very good car," said Negri. "But I think there might be some guys who maybe didn't show everything they have today. Hopefully, we can keep improving for when they do, but for sure it's always great to end the day on top."
The VIR 400 will showcase the Rolex Sports Car Series' new qualifying format for selected races, as the morning practice session will set the grid for a thirty-minute qualifying race in the afternoon. The race will pay equal points as Sunday's three-hour event, with no driver change needed. Negri will be at the controls for the qualifying race, meaning that Patterson will take the start of Sunday's event per the Grand-Am rules.
"I think it's going to be really interesting," said Negri with a smile. "This is the first time for this, so everyone is trying to figure out what the best strategy is with tires and everything, and with rain possible, it should be a wild race. Hopefully we can do well so we can score some point Mark can get a good spot to start from on Sunday and we can get a streak of good finishes going."
Patterson, who also raced with Negri at the challenging VIR circuit last year, was on pace once again as the two traded time in the distinctive orange and black machine.
"The car is just wonderful to drive," said Patterson. "We didn't even finish the second session because the conditions were such that we weren't going to learn anything on a half-wet track, so we just parked it and should be in a strong position tomorrow. We will see how this qualifying race plays out, but it should be pretty interesting for the fans at the very least."
The team scored the second top-five of the season last round in Long Beach after starting the season off with a second place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the team is hoping to keep the points momentum going this weekend.
"This is a good way to start off, and with everything new this weekend, it's good to know that we have a fast race car," said team owner Mike Shank. "These qualifying races are going to be fun for the fans and the drivers, and hopefully we can have a clean race tomorrow and start up front on Sunday."