Michael Shank Racing Looking Forward to Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR COLUMBUS, OH (20 April 2010)-Virginia International Raceway will play host for round four of the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal championship...
Michael Shank Racing Looking Forward to Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR
COLUMBUS, OH (20 April 2010)-Virginia International Raceway will play host for round four of the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal championship this Saturday as Michael Shank Racing looks to return to the podium once again at the natural terrain road course just down the road from Danville, Virginia.
John Pew and Oswaldo Negri will team in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley combination, and the duo enter the race weekend holding second place in the Rolex Sports Car Series Team Championship points standings after a strong second place finish at Barber Motorsports Park.
The No. 6 The Pit Stop at Norris Lake Ford-Riley will be shared by Michael Valiante and Brian Frisselle, two drivers with strong previous performances at VIR on their resume. Valiante and Pew combined for a run to second place at the track last year, and the Canadian hotshoe scored pole for the race in 2008.
"I'm really looking forward to going back to VIR this weekend," said Valiante. "It's a great facility, a beautiful place for us to race. We came very close to winning that race last year and I think everyone on the team is looking forward to going to that track. With Brian on board this year, I think we have a great driver line-up and we have a good chance to do well again there this weekend."
While the move to second in the championship ratchets up the pressure for the entire organization, it won't change anything in Pew's approach as he prepares for his third career Daytona Prototype start at VIR.
"Last year when we raced at VIR, it was the first race we had run in several months," said Pew, who scored 7th on the grid in qualifying at the track last year. "But this year we already have three races under our belts, and some good momentum so we will just try to keep doing what we have been doing. This track is very challenging--there is so much elevation change, and several fast, blind corners, and then corners where you have to be so patient. But that's what makes it such a highlight for the drivers because to put a fast lap together at VIR, you have to work hard for it!"
Pew's co-driver Negri has posted some tremendous drives through the years at VIR, although his results have been compromised by some bad racing luck at the track as the Miami resident looks to improve on his career-best finish of 6th at VIR.
"There have been some races where we cut a tire, or got knocked off track early, and we've had to really charge to the finish there," said Negri. "So we just want to make sure we avoid any of that bad luck and be there to fight at the finish on Saturday. Finishing second at Barber was a great result, and we just want to keep fighting to be on the podium and hopefully be on the top step soon. Michael Shank Racing usually has a very fast car at VIR, and both sides of this team are communicating and working very well together so hopefully we have a good weekend and can keep a good position in the points."
The VIR track is a bit of a homecoming for Frisselle, after he lived for some time in Virginia as he tested the waters in the NASCAR stock car racing world with some short track racing exploits. While he's returned to focus full-time on the Rolex Sports Car Series, he is still looking forward to being back in the southern region ahead of Saturday's race.
"After racing at Barber, I'm happy we get the chance to turn around and go back right back to racing again this weekend at VIR," said Frisselle, who set a top-ten time in qualifying for VIR last year on his way to third in the championship standings. "The track is one that makes you work for a good lap time, but I'm very optimistic about the weekend. Michael has had some very good runs there as well, so we just want to get a quick start to the weekend and hopefully make some ground up in the championship."
With just two days of on-track running, the weekend will indeed be a quick one for the Rolex Sports Car presented by Crown Royal teams.
"With the schedule that we have this weekend, it's going to be even more more important than usal to roll off the truck with a fast car because there isn't much opportunity to recover if you are off the mark with your set-up," said team owner Mike Shank. "But we are confident about our chances this weekend, and we know that we'll have several races this year where being fast right out of the gate will be critical. It was good for us to get the Crown Royal XR car up in the points at Barber. We'd certainly would like to make up some ground to the 01 car and in the championship and hopefully we can be a little bit stronger with the No. 6 car as well this weekend."