Michael Shank Racing 4th and 5th in Sahlen's 6 Hours (Watkins Glen, NY) 6 June 2009- Michael Shank Racing had another strong team outing on Saturday at Watkins Glen International as the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley of John Pew and...
Michael Shank Racing 4th and 5th in Sahlen's 6 Hours
(Watkins Glen, NY) 6 June 2009- Michael Shank Racing had another strong team outing on Saturday at Watkins Glen International as the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley of John Pew and Michael Valiante finished 4th, with the No. 60 NYU/Stern School of Business-liveried Ford-Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri coming home in 5th in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen.
Valiante and Negri started the race from 4th and 5th respectively, with Valiante moving up to the lead before heading to the pits on lap 24 to turn the car over to Pew as Negri simultaneously turned the car over to Patterson.
As a variety of pit strategies played out, the Shank approach was spot-on as a restart saw Pew leading not just Patterson, but also the rest of the field as he commanded the point for six laps. The run up front was a highlight on the day, as Patterson pursued Pew closely and tried to score the lead for himself as the two moved clear of the pack while still battling for the lead.
"That was great fun to be up front and comfortably hold on to the lead," said Pew, who was at the point for five laps before taking to the pits. "The car was very good, but we had a bit of a push. But it was a great feeling to run up front. Running in the clean air up at the front was definitely an advantage. The team called a great strategy with the stops, but I'll admit that when they called me into the pits, I didn't really want to give up the lead and come in!"
"The tires are so much better with this set-up, and they came up to temperature right away," said Patterson. "That was great fun to be running 1-2 for Michael Shank Racing. I had a good run going to pass John (Pew) for the lead, but then the GT car just didn't cooperate! We had some very strong cars today."
The race continued to go well for the team, although the event had half as many safety periods as had happened in the race last year. While this made for a long flat-out race pace and favored the speed that the team cars had, the rotation of drivers would have benefited from more yellow flag periods.
"First off, I am so proud to have had John and Mark lead this field the way they did today," said team owner Mike Shank. "I've been working on developing this Daytona Prototype program for five years now, and to see those guys not only running up front, but also growing that lead and being really strong up there, it was just fantastic. We were hoping for more out of the race, though. I'm happy to be in a situation where we are disappointed with the results even though we have both cars in the top-five. It's a great result for the team, but it still isn't really indicative of the results we're capable of. Hopefully we can do that at Mid-Ohio."
The flat out race pace saw the drivers fight for everything possible, but at the checkered flag, the team wasn't able to return to the Watkins Glen podium.
"I was driving every lap like it was in qualifying," said Negri. "We had the perfect strategy today and very good cars once again. I'm so proud of how Mark raced today. It was fantastic. I've never seen this team working better together and all the communication between the drivers and engineers is just excellent so I am really enjoying every day of this opportunity. We were hoping to get up on the podium of course but now we'll just focus on doing that at Mid-Ohio."
The 4th place finish boosted the No. 6 to sixth in the championship standings, something that the team will look to continue to improve on through the heat of the summer season.
"The team worked very well together this entire weekend, and we've had very fast cars all season long," said Valiante. "Our race pace was excellent, but we just didn't have the perfect day that you have to have to get on the podium in these races. John did an awesome job, and this is really good for the points so we'll just try to keep this kind of result coming because if you have the speed that we have had this year, the results will eventually come your way."
Michael Shank Racing will be back in Rolex Sports Car Series action in two weeks time for the EMCO Gears Classic presented Key Bank at the teams home track, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.