Michael Shank Racing Targets Redemption on Watkins Glen Return
Watkins Glen, NY (4 August 2010)-With one car ending the race in flames, and the second entry falling short of a run to the podium despite the speed the Crown Royal XR machine showed all weekend, Michael Shank Racing's last visit to Watkins Glen in June for the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal was a tremendous setback.
But instead of letting the disappointment sink in, the team went right back to work with countless hours dedicated to doing whatever it took to get back on track and up to speed.
The Watkins Glen set back also led to the establishment of new commercial opportunities for the team, as sponsors including CAP & Associates, JDM Investment Counsel, and the Rocky Fork Company have stepped up to help the program literally stay on track.
Heading back to the legendary track for the Crown Royal 200 with one team entry showing strength in the championship standings, and the other machine demonstrating tremendous race-day pace, Michael Shank Racing is very much looking forward to returning to Watkins Glen to set the record straight this Saturday evening with strong finishes from both team Daytona Prototype entries.
"No track owes anybody anything, but since we had such a tough race at the Glen last time, hopefully we'll have a little bit of luck on account there that we can cash in this weekend," said team owner Mike Shank. "Even though it was a gut punch of a weekend, I'm very proud of what the guys have done since then, rallying and just putting their heads down to get us back on track. It's been pretty amazing and now we know we've got two quick cars, a great driver line up, and some big points to play for in the championship so we are absolutely ready to go."
Adding to the team's anticipation for the weekend is the fact that Watkins Glen is a track that has historically seen the team shine, particularly in the sprint race on the "short course" that is utilized as the Rolex Series joins the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend once again.
Utilizing a borrowed Dallara following the Watkins Glen fire, the team's hard work has paid off as the No. 6 Ford-powered Dallara has been a constant threat up front in the hands of Brian Frisselle and Michael Valiante, leading laps in every race since Mid-Ohio as the young duo target a run to the podium in the Crown Royal 200 this Saturday evening at Watkins Glen.
While the No. 6 side of the canopy has suffered some significant peaks and valleys through the year to date, the No. 60 Crown Royal XR of John Pew and Ozz Negri has been a model of quick consistency, with regular podium appearances through the tough summer stretch of races.
The Crown Royal Ford-Riley machine, now tied for third in the championship standings, has unloaded quickly to get fast starts on the weekend, enjoyed tremendous reliability thanks to excellent preparation, and has been right on pace thanks to consistent top ten qualifying efforts from John Pew through the year.
Speed helps, and consistency is key, too, as the Crown Royal Ford-Riley combination has clocked the most laps (tied with No. 10 machine) so far this year (1,648 of 1,747).
"Every driver loves going to Watkins Glen-long course, short course, it doesn't matter," said Pew, who proved quick during the 6 Hour despite rainy conditions that changed every lap. "Michael Shank Racing always has such fast cars there and Ozz was made for the place, so we're really optimistic about the weekend with the Crown Royal car. It's a fast weekend and a fast race, so hopefully it all comes together for us."
Pew's co-driver Negri scored third at Watkins Glen in his first race with Mark Patterson in 2005, and he's hoping that he can score a similar result this Saturday as he and Pew make their first start together on the short course.
"It doesn't matter where we are racing--I am always happy no matter when I get to race but going to Watkins Glen is always really special for me," offered Negri. "The track is fast, and the team is always so prepared with a great car so we always arrive knowing we have the opportunity to do something very good with the Crown Royal XR car."
The team will also be changing things up with the driver order in the No. 6, as 2008 Crown Royal 200 race winner Brian Frisselle, who has been handling the qualifying duties this year, will do the run to the checkered flag after Valiante takes over the qualifying and race starting position. Valiante scored third on the grid in 2008 so will be one to watch in qualifying.
"We've learned a lot every weekend about this Dallara and we've had really good race pace but just have been shy on the luck so far but the Glen would be a perfect place to turn that around," said Frisselle, who along with Valiante was recently voted into the prestigious RDCC. "I wish we had a warm up on race day because that's been a huge key for us the last few weekends but hopefully we can just unload quick and keep improving on Friday to be ready to go on Saturday night."