Yacaman leads as Negri and Pew take podium in Kansas

Michael Shank Racing fought back from a crash early in the weekend with one car, led the race convincingly with the sister machine, and then went on to take a podium finish at the checkered flag.

Kansas City, Kan. – Michael Shank Racing experienced the highs and lows of racing this weekend as GRAND-AM made a debut appearance at the Kansas Speedway.

The team fought back from a crash early in the weekend with one car, led the race convincingly with the sister machine, and then went on to take a podium finish at the checkered flag.

#60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: John Pew, Oswaldo Negri
#60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley: John Pew, Oswaldo Negri

Photo by: Jay Alley

After qualifying on the front row, driver Gustavo Yacaman led 44 laps of the SFP Grand Prix at Kansas Speedway before turning the No. 6 Tuvacol/AERO Ford-Riley over to co-driver Justin Wilson to take to the finish. Unfortunately, the podium-promising run was cut short after multiple incidents of contact from competitors caused enough damage that the car was not able to finish the race.

"Obviously it was really nice to lead almost two stints,” said Yacaman. “The car was great! There was a little too much understeer at the beginning of the stint but as the fuel load went off it came back to me. The car was really fast and I managed traffic pretty well and stayed ahead of my competitors. It was really nice to be in the lead with no pressure.”

Unfortunately, as Wilson took to the track he was under a lot of pressure fighting through the pack. The rough and tumble racing that has long characterized GRAND-AM action was taken a little too far though on the night, as the No. 6 machine first suffered a big hit from behind from the No. 4 8Star entry. The damage slowed Wilson’s pace as the hit was so severe that it bent the exhaust on the Ford motor, choking the free flow of air.

A quick stop for repairs saw Wilson back out and in the fight once again. Unfortunately, the hits kept coming as the No. 8 Starworks Riley made repeated contact with Wilson, ultimately breaking the steering column on the car and ending the day early.

"It was a shame,” said Wilson. “We got drilled from behind going into Turn 1 and that bent the exhaust and the car just wouldn't go in a straight line. We went to the back after the guys tried to fix it and we were trying to come back through and passing cars. But then we got sideswiped pretty hard a couple of times.

But it's just one of those things, it's racing. It's frustrating not to get a half-decent result, but that's how it goes and we will come back at Laguna Seca. Everyone did a great job, it just wasn't our day."

“I'm really gutted for the finish we got, I think the team and all the guys from Michael Shank Racing really deserved a win or a podium that I know we could have pulled off,” added Yacaman. “But what can we do? At least the No. 60 car was able to have a strong run and come home with a podium result.”

The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley entry of John Pew and Ozz Negri had a roller coaster of a weekend, with the team once again showing the never give up attitude that it has long held. A practice session accident saw the No. 60 Ford-Riley need extensive repairs.

But the team rebuilt the car well enough and quickly enough that Pew was able set a strong qualifying time. That converted into a strong race run for the 2012 Rolex 24 Champion as Pew moved up to run sixth before turning the car over to Negri.

Negri fought hard to the finish, and was able to move up to run third in the closing laps after fast pit work from the team while taking just two tires gave him good track position while still having a car he could keep a pace with. A long green flag run to the checkered flag saw Negri and Pew extend the respective long streaks of earning podiums in GRAND-AM competition, year after year.

"After the crash in practice and the guys working from the minute after the practice up until I went out to qualify was awesome,” said Pew. “The setup was good, the engineers did a great job and it was great. The car was very good. It was very exciting, a really good stint. I could have driven it all day like that! Ozz did a great job as well, holding off Joao (Barbosa) was fantastic."

"It was a solid run,” said Negri. “I had nothing for the No. 10 or the No. 01 car, but we just kept hitting our marks. The car was pretty good on the first stint, I was very aggressive in the beginning and passing cars while they had cold tires. Once I got to my good track position it was okay.

Our car turned out to be a third position car just like it seemed and the No. 10 and No. 01 car were just in a different league tonight. But in the end I am glad with the result. I think the team really deserves this, especially with the hard work they did putting this car together. So I am going home very happy and looking forward to spending a few days with my family."

“Gus did a great job for us, leading all those laps tonight and being so consistent up front,” said team owner Mike Shank. “He handed the car over to Justin and we were I think on our way to a very good finish. So that was a really frustrating result after we got banged around there enough to end the day.

On the other hand, with the 60 car, I’m not only happy about the podium, but I’m probably even more proud of the effort from the whole team through the last few days to get to this point. Hopefully at Laguna we can be celebrating big results with both of these cars.”

Michael Shank Racing will be back in action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca September 7-8. Big congratulations to Michael Shank Racing drivers AJ Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, and Sam Hornish Jr. for finishing 1-2-3 in today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mid-Ohio.

Michael Shank Racing

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Series GRANDAM
Article type Race reports
Tags ford-riley, grandam, kansas, negri, pew, wilson, yacaman