Birmingham, Ala. (5 April 2013) – With 2.3-miles of immaculately smooth pavement set in a verdant Alabama backdrop, Barber Motorsports Park has long been rated as one of the top racing facilities in North America. That environment is one that has seen Michael Shank Racing thrive through the years, as the team has scored multiple podium results at the venue in Rolex Sports Car Series competition.

#6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Gustavo Yacaman
#6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: Gustavo Yacaman

Photo by: Luis Betancourt

The team will look to add to that record on Saturday afternoon as GRAND-AM stages round 3 of the 2013 championship in a 2-hour sprint race (SPEED, Sunday April 7, 5:30 PM ET) with the Porsche 250. Michael Valiante has been tabbed to fill the big racing shoes of Ozz Negri, who is sitting out the next two rounds of Rolex competition as he recovers from a leg injury suffered in off-season training. Valiante, who scored pole at the track in 2008, will team with John Pew, as the duo look to replicate their run to the podium together at the track in 2009.

The sister No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley will see Gustavo Yacaman teaming with Antonio Pizzonia once again. The exciting duo were factors in their debut together at the Circuit of the Americas, and the two will look to build on their fast start with a strong result in the race. Pizzonia has once again shown a flair for rapidly learning a new track, while Yacaman is putting his previous open-wheel experience at Barber Motorsports Park to good use.

“We didn’t really know what to expect since we didn’t do a lot of running in the dry,” said Yacaman. “We had a little too much understeer in our balance to maybe get more out of the car, but we’ll try to fix it towards the race and have a better result.”

While the young Colombian has logged lots of laps on the 2.3-mile track from behind the wheel of an open-wheel machine, the change to Daytona Prototype competition is one that has him continuing to learn more on every lap.

“I was actually surprised how close it was to an open-wheel car, with some of the reference points and turning points,” said Yacaman. “Still everything is so new, I’m still learning a lot. The tires are completely different of course. Even though I know the track, it’s just so much different from anything I’ve driven before. It’s going to be an interesting year, I’ve got a lot of learning going on, but we’ll get to it.”

The No. 60 machine of Pew and Valiante didn’t have the day that the duo were looking for as Valiante suffered an off in challenging conditions during the morning practice session. The team rallied to make repairs, but the damage was too significant for the car to make it back in time to the track for Pew to qualify and will start from the back.

“It’s too bad what happened with the 60 but we’ve got two very fast race cars and with the two hour race, we know that there are some chances to put strategy to work so it might not be that big of a deal,” said Shank. “Antonio and Gustavo have continued to do a great job working together and building speed with the car on this track. We lost a lot of time with the rain, but we feel like we should be competitive with both our cars tomorrow.”

Michael Shank Racing