Speed is silver lining on a tough day at the Beach
Hopes were high for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian after scoring a spot on the front row in the debut appearance of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at the Long Beach street circuit, but the shortest race of the year didn’t yield the results the team had been looking for.
John Pew and Ozz Negri were classified with a ninth in class result with the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost/Riley at the end of the 100-minute Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase on Saturday for Round 3 of the 2014 TUDOR Championship.
But the tough day at least saw the team show impressive speed as Negri carded the fastest lap of the race with a blistering 1:16.007-second tour of the 2-mile temporary street circuit.
Pew opened the race from the front row, but heading into the first corner, had to deal with a balky gearbox while also finding himself muscled into the tire barrier wall as the field tried to go three wide through the tight first corner. The gearbox was slow to respond to inputs, creating a big delay before Pew was able to engage first gear and get going again as he fought from a lap down.
Making his first-ever start on the track, Pew shook off the tough start and started laying down lap times that would have him firmly in the sharp end of the field. Unfortunately, there was another struggle in store as a second dose of bad luck struck when another DP spun in front of Pew and collected him.
Unable to refire the car, Pew remained stranded off track but the resilient crew never gave up. Pew was met by Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian team members who were able to offer assistance at the car. After losing valuable track time, the No. 60 returned back to the track and it became apparent that the contact had created an issue with a sensor on the EcoBoost motor.
The Roush Yates engineers were able to diagnose and fix the issue, allowing Pew to return to the pits and turn the car over to Negri. Making his second DP start at the track after having raced on the track in his open-wheel days, Negri lapped his way towards championship points while also pushing the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost/Riley to the fastest lap of the race.
“I’m happy with the speed we had this weekend and how the whole team just kept fighting,” said team owner Mike Shank. “Obviously we didn’t have the luck to go with the speed today. It’s too bad because we were really good—John (Pew) did some outstanding laps once he got going at the start, and Ozz was magic again as always. But it wasn’t our day. Hat’s off to Ganassi for their win and to everyone who is a part of this Ford Eco/Boost effort. Hopefully we can just keep unloading with quick cars and the results will come for us.”
The Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian squad will continue its West Coast swing with the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 4.
JOHN PEW: “I was a little bit wide of the braking zone (at the start). The car wasn’t downshifting. It stayed in sixth gear the whole time and I was just trying to decide what to do and hammering the brakes. It wasn’t a large hit, just a tiny tap into the wall. But then I couldn’t get it out of sixth gear and it took awhile. I finally got it around and out again. The car was fine for awhile. It could’ve been fairly competitive. Then going into Turn 8, I knew Michael was coming. I knew he was coming into the corner, into the apex, so I left him a little bit of space. He was kind of in front of me. Hit the curb and spun right in front of me and I just hit him. Then I came down the straightaway and after that the engine just died. Then it just died for awhile and then on the restart it just died and went into the escape road and sat down there, and the guys came down there and brought the Ford guy down there. It was a sensor that went. I don’t know if we hit something or what. It was just a bad day at the office, that’s for sure. The car was definitely capable. I think we had a really good shot.”
OZZ NEGRI: “It’s pretty frustrating, but that’s racing. All I can say is we worked hard. We had what we wanted, it just wasn’t meant to be. I really don’t know what to think or what to say. I had high expectations. At the end of the day, I’m happy with the speed. I’ve never had so much fun driving the car in my whole career. I just wanted to put the hammer down and say ‘hey, we were here!” Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will race in three weeks time at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Negri scored the pole there in 2005.
Michael Shank Racing