Birmingham: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing ready to take on the heat and the competition in Alabama (Birmingham, AL) 19 July 2007--This weekend's Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park outside of Birmingham, Alabama, marks the third Rolex...

Michael Shank Racing ready to take on the heat and the competition in Alabama

(Birmingham, AL) 19 July 2007--This weekend's Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park outside of Birmingham, Alabama, marks the third Rolex event in as many weekends as the 2007 season moves into a hectic mid-summer pace. With both team Lexus-Riley entries hitting their stride through the mid-summer stretch, Michael Shank Racing is ready to keep striking while the iron is hot this weekend for round ten of the Rolex Sports Car Series season.

"These races are all falling right on top of one another, but we love it," said team owner Mike Shank. "I'm proud of the effort the team has been putting in to be getting the results we've had week in and week out. This series is really competitive, and it a lot of things have to go right all weekend to finish like we have been, so hopefully we can keep making up ground in the championship."

And with the Daytona Prototype-only race set in the South as the area spikes in both heat and humidity, things will indeed be hot this weekend. Fortunately, the team is stocked full of drivers who keep their cool. Coming off yet another double top-ten finish for both Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley entries in last Friday night's Iowa Speedway race, the team has reason for optimism heading into the Barber weekend. Michael Shank Racing finished third in the 2005 Barber event and went on to score a double-top-ten finish in 2006 as the two team entries moved up a total of twenty-four positions during the race.

While the pace of the season might cause some teams trouble, the hectic schedule has only driven Michael Shank Racing to greater success. The No. 60 entry of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri took their sixth top ten finish of the season in Iowa, and are situated eighth in the championship standings.

The Playboy-liveried No. 6 of John Pew and Ian James has a hot streak of its own going, moving up to seventh in the championship on the strength of five consecutive top-tens ahead of the Barber weekend. John Pew impressed many with his qualifying debut run to eighth place at Mid-Ohio, and has also shown well come race time as he grows his Rolex experience lap by lap.

"Working with this team has made the move to the Prototypes feel really natural," said Pew, who also has thousands of nautical miles under his belt as a world-traveling sailor. "Driving with Ian (James) has been great and I am looking forward to getting back to a natural road course this weekend at Barber-it's just an amazing facility."

Ian James's run of performances has divided the Rolex paddock firmly into two groups-one that insists that they knew all along that the affable Brit had this kind of talent, and a second group that just pretend to have known that. James has moved to third--out of over two hundred drivers--in Grand-Am's "Driver Performance Index."

The blisters on Oswaldo Negri's hands after the race were proof of his outstanding effort at Iowa, where he took to the field in 12th place after the pit stop, but worked his way forward up to take fifth at the finish line after setting a remarkable race pace. Negri's fastest lap of the race was just .01 of a second behind the race winning Ganassi's best of the night.

Mark Patterson has cultivated a passionate following for his driving pursuits through the "Mark's Take" section at, and also made a broadcast debut of sorts last weekend when was asked by SPEED Channel to do the voice over for the "Lap Around Iowa" pre-race segment. Patterson recovered after getting balked at the start of the Iowa race to pass NASCAR racer Mark Martin before turning the car over to Negri.

Already established as one of the most fleet of non-pro racers in the Rolex ranks and looking to successfully defend his Trueman Award Championship, Patterson still has Tracy Krohn's green machine firmly in his sights this weekend at Barber, not to mention the bigger picture of the championship standings.

"After an exciting race in Iowa, it's great to be heading to a natural road course again where this Lexus engine can stretch its legs a little bit," said Patterson. "We had a really raceable car there last year and we'd like nothing more than to keep it coming with these results, and even better get back on the podium again like we did at Laguna."

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ian James , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Tracy Krohn , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank , Mark Martin
Teams Michael Shank Racing