Watkins Glen: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing Targets Podium Performance at Watkins Glen (Columbus, OH) 3 June 2009- Michael Shank Racing will be back in action this Saturday as the Rolex Sports Car Series heads to upstate New York to visit fan and driver favorite ...

Michael Shank Racing Targets Podium Performance at Watkins Glen

(Columbus, OH) 3 June 2009- Michael Shank Racing will be back in action this Saturday as the Rolex Sports Car Series heads to upstate New York to visit fan and driver favorite Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen's 6 Hours of the Glen and round five of the 2009 championship season.

The team will once again bring two strong entries for the second long-distance race of the season, a format and venue they've all done well at in the past.

VIR podium finishers John Pew and Michael Valiante will share the driving duties in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri will return to the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley, which will carry the colors of NYU's Leonard N. Stern School of Business this weekend, in honor of the Dean, Tom Cooley, who will be attending this race weekend. Cooley is retiring as NYU's Dean this year. Probably no other Dean of a leading business school is himself a Skip Barber trained race driver, as Tom is.

"We've always been strong at Watkins Glen, but we've just missed out on making it up to the podium in the six hour, so that is our goal this weekend," said team owner Mike Shank. "And we know we have the drivers and the cars to do just that. This race is long, but Rolex is so competitive that it's pretty much a sprint from start to finish. There are a lot of pit stops as well, so that should give the guys going over the wall a chance to shine, just like they did last year in our wins at New Jersey and Miller."

Watkins Glen, which hosted Formula 1 events through the 70's and features the high-speed "Esses," "The Boot," and one of the fastest first corners on the entire Rolex Series calendar, is one that has seen the team score strong results through the years including a breakthrough podium appearance on the short course layout for Patterson and Negri in just their 3rd Rolex Series start together.

"We've experienced nearly everything through the years in the six hour race, from cold grey days to warm afternoons with sudden downpours, and things can change from one extreme to the next in the space of one lap and that keeps you on your toes," said Patterson. "The track is one that everyone enjoys driving, and even though it is a long race at six hours, there is no way to tell that from behind the wheel because everyone is going full pace for the entire distance. Ozz and I have had some great runs and hopefully we will have another one this Saturday afternoon, as we are looking forward to hosting some good friends from the Stern Business School this weekend."

While the 3.4-mile long course layout has produced 4th place finishes for drivers Negri, Patterson, and Pew, the team has yet to make it to the podium in the 6-Hour event and will target that result with both Daytona Prototype entries this Saturday. The return to the endurance race format should also help the teams prospects, as the Columbus, Ohio-based squad has shown through the years that its preparation, pit work, and pace create competitive results in the challenging endurance outings.

"Michael Shank has always been really good in the long-distance events," said Pew, who himself scored a victory with the team to close out the 2008 Rolex season in the nearly 7-hour Miller Motorsports Park event. "I've raced nearly everything you can at Watkins Glen, but the six hour race in a Daytona Prototype is the best possible way to experience this track. We've had really strong cars every session, all season long, and we just want to convert that speed into another trip to the podium. Working with Michael (Valiante) has been great, and I'm just looking forward to getting this race started on Saturday-I can't wait."

Team points update:
The team will also look to make the most of the weekend to move up in the championship standings. After a tough start to the year, Michael Shank Racing has fought back up in the order in the team championship points standings as the No. 6 entry is tied for sixth with 91 points, and the No. 60 is in tenth with 84 points to date.

Trueman Award Update:
Mark Patterson scored the Trueman Medal at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as the points battle tightened considerably. Patterson is now P4 on the strength of 919 points, with Brad Jaeger leading the category with 1114 points.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Michael Valiante , Skip Barber , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Brad Jaeger , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing