2002 Toyota Atlantic Champion Jon Fogarty, his Pacific Coast Motorsports teammate Alex Figge, and former Atlantics runner Alex Gurney tested the Michael Shank Racing (MSR) Lexus-Doran Daytona Prototype at Mid-Ohio this week to get a look at the ...
2002 Toyota Atlantic Champion Jon Fogarty, his Pacific Coast Motorsports teammate Alex Figge, and former Atlantics runner Alex Gurney tested the Michael Shank Racing (MSR) Lexus-Doran Daytona Prototype at Mid-Ohio this week to get a look at the burgeoning category. The three drivers took turns at the wheel through full day of running at the 2.25-mile track and were able to provide MSR with feedback on the car while thoroughly enjoying their first taste of the DP category.
MSR still has testing and race opportunities open after the Daytona weekend, and Shank is actively looking for interested drivers to test and race in the second half of the season. Shank was impressed with how quickly the three drivers were able to get up to speed as well as the quality of their feedback.
"All these guys come from where we come from, so we speak the same language as far as development and feedback, so was a very productive day for us," said Shank. "Even though none of these guys had ever driven anything like this, they were on the pace immediately, and were able to continue right where we left off at the Glen test last week with Burt (Frisselle) and Oswaldo (Negri) as far as finding new ways to get the most out of this car."
Fogarty, Figge, and Gurney had all been looking forward to getting a taste of the Daytona Prototype format, and all three walked away from the test smiling.
"I knew we were going to have fun today, but I have to say both the team and the car exceeded my expectations," said Fogarty. "I would have to think that these would be a blast to race in. Besides, Mid-Ohio is a fun race track, no matter what race car you are in!"
Fogarty's Pacific Coast teammate Figge enjoyed the day, and pointed out some of the benefits of the powerful closed cockpit car.
"This is definitely a buff race car," said Figge. "It takes a different kind of commitment to be fast in this car than in an Atlantics, but it was really a blast. I had never driven a race car with a roof on it, so I had to get used to the heat inside, but there was also more elbow room in there than anything I've ever driven!"
In just their first season of Rolex competition, MSR has emerged as a serious title contender, sitting just four points from the championship leader despite running with a budget markedly smaller than most of their competition. MSR previously competed in the Toyota Atlantic series, but has adapted quickly to the endurance format of Rolex competition with drivers Burt Frisselle and Oswaldo Negri continuing to impress Shank as well as the rest of the paddock with their speed and consistency.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, MSR was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr. MSR is making the transition to the Rolex Series from open-wheel competition for the 2004 season in the Rolex Sports Car Series, campaigning a Lexus-powered Doran JE4.