Birmingham: Michael Shank Racing race report

Michael Shank Racing On Barber Podium With Pew and James; Third and fourth place for strong team outing (Birmingham, AL) 20 July 08 - Michael Shank Racing once again showed great speed and teamwork in Rolex Sports Car Series competition, and ...

Michael Shank Racing On Barber Podium With Pew and James; Third and fourth place for strong team outing

(Birmingham, AL) 20 July 08 - Michael Shank Racing once again showed great speed and teamwork in Rolex Sports Car Series competition, and was rewarded with strong race results as John Pew and Ian James finished the Porsche 250 presented by Bradly Arant in third place, with Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri coming home close behind in fourth after a hot and hard-fought two hours and forty-five minutes of racing at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday.

The podium appearance was the first in Rolex Series competition for the Pew/James duo, which had collected three 4th place Rolex results together since first joining up together at Michael Shank Racing in June of 2007.

"This is a great team result and it's just fantastic to see John and Ian up there on the podium," said team owner Mike Shank. "We really struggled this weekend to find the speed we've had everywhere else with the car and everyone was pretty frustrated after qualifying yesterday. But we changed some things and just didn't give up, and we came out of it with a great run for both cars. I'm really happy with how things played out and just proud of everyone for sticking with it even in this heat. John and Ian have been knocking on the door to do this for so long, it's great to have them finally get up and get some champagne."

Pew opened the race up from twelfth on the grid and soon found himself battling back and forth with Patterson in the sister team No. 60 Ford Riley as the duo added a new chapter to their long history of on-track battles and off-track camaraderie.

"Mark (Patterson) and I had a pretty spirited battle going on and that was a lot of fun," said Pew. "I came in a little bit earlier than we planned, but we got some debris in the radiators so the temperatures on the Ford motor were shooting up, so we just decided to clean off the front and get Ian in the car at the same time. Ian did a fantastic job once again, and this is just great for the team because they've done an amazing job every single race weekend. Racing with Mike Shank is a great experience. We've been close several times, so it's just great to finally get up on the podium, and hopefully we can do it again soon."

The pit stop exchange saw James return to the field in 16th position before making his march up to third at the checkered flag.

"This is just fantastic for the team and I'm really so happy for John to get up on the podium, it's just great," said James, who was rooted on at the race by some of his UK-based early-career race supporters that made a special visit to see him race. "I was just trying to save my rear tires as much as possible for the end and that paid off. We've been fast everywhere we've gone, but just have had some bad luck and niggling little problems keep us from getting on the podium, so hopefully this is the turn in our luck and the first of many to come."

The fourth place run solidified Patterson and Negri's fourth position in the team championship standings and marked a significant rebound from a disappointing Daytona race outing earlier in the month.

"That was a fantastic battle John and I had!" enthused Patterson after emerging from the Ford-Riley. "We both knew where the other was the entire time, and just had a great fight. He got me fair and square, and then I'd get him back and we just kept battling. It was great. We both gained a lot of experience and a lot as friends, too. And to see them get up on the podium is also just fantastic. This is a really good day for this Michael Shank Racing team."

The early stages of the race weekend hadn't gone according to plan, with a Ford-Riley that wasn't allowing Patterson to qualify with his established bravado. But the team never stopped working to be in place for a strong result at the finish.

"I have to say thanks first to my engineers Dave Kanning and Jeff Schaffner," said Negri. "I was frustrated to be where we were yesterday, and they put up with me and put us in this position to have a much better car today and here we are now with a fourth place. I'm also really happy for Ian and John to see them get their first podium, this is a great day for this team. Ian and I were battling nose to tail, but I just kept thinking championship and it didn't make any sense to do anything adventurous against a team mate so I'm really happy with the result of this race. It was a tough weekend, but we came out strong and I'm proud of my team."

Team owner Shank could hardly be blamed if he were to claim a few extra grey hairs after seeing the team cars do battle early in the race with Pew and Patterson going at it, and then once again in the latter stages as James and Negri had their own battle late while fighting up through the field. But both sets of drivers raced clean but hard on the way to a great outcome at the finish.

"Oz is a good teammate and we've had some close battles this season, but I knew he'd be smart out there and not take any chances," said James, who refuses to acknowledge having a birthday in the near future.

-credit: msr

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