Daytona 24: Allmendinger, Wilson preview

AJ and Justin take a 24 hour break Champ Car teammates take a break from trying to beat each other...but just for 24 hours (Daytona Beach, FL) January 24, 06-- With A.J. Allmendinger scoring the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year honors in 2004, and...

AJ and Justin take a 24 hour break

Champ Car teammates take a break from trying to beat each other...but just for 24 hours

(Daytona Beach, FL) January 24, 06-- With A.J. Allmendinger scoring the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year honors in 2004, and Justin Wilson taking two wins on his way to third in the 2005 championship, RuSPORT teammates Wilson and Allmendinger have quickly made their presence felt in the Champ Car World Series. The two are looking to have a similarly large impact this weekend when they make their Rolex Sports Car Series debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona co-driving the #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley combination with Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri for Michael Shank Racing.

In the often-cutthroat world of open-wheel racing, Wilson and Allmendinger are a unique pairing, and not just because one is 6'4" and the other is 5' 7". Under the watchful eyes of RuSPORT team owner Carl Russo and RuSPORT driver coach Barry Waddell, Allmendinger and Wilson have fused a positive relationship off the track that has helped to foster faster speeds on it.

"I wouldn't want any other teammate right now," says Allmendinger. "We get along great off the track and can hang out and have a good time-if we are trying to beat each other in mini-golf or whatever, and we have fun, and that helps a lot. But the other thing is that he makes me do things in the car that I never thought I'd get out of myself and so he helps me get faster, and that's a great thing to have in a teammate."

The roles are a bit different for the RuSPORT teammates as they prepare for the Rolex event because while they normally share information and data to push each other to be faster in their respective Champ Cars, they are always ultimately trying to beat each other. But for the 24, the two will be sharing the same car and collaborating, along with co-drivers Patterson and Negri, to try and beat everyone else in what is expected to be one of the most closely contested 24 hour events ever.

"It's just different getting ready for the Rolex because its not just two drivers, there are four drivers working together," said former Jaguar Racing Formula 1 pilot Wilson. "Everything is a bit different, and you are trying to understand between the four people what everyone is looking for, and ultimately how to make the car go quicker for everyone, rather than being focused on just yourself and your car like we tend to be in Champ Car."

Wilson and Allmendinger are looking to get an early start to their 2006 Champ Car season by tuning up with the Rolex 24 effort-but make no mistake, both Wilson and Allmendinger are involved for only one reason.

"We are here to win-that's why we are racing with Mark and Oswaldo for Mike Shank-because we feel like with these drivers, this car, and this team, we have a chance to win the race, and we're really hungry to do it," said Allmendinger. "This is more relaxing, more fun, something that's out of the ordinary that I normally wouldn't get to try, but we are still focused on doing as well as we can and getting a good start to 2006."

Michael Shank Racing, which led early and went on to finish fourth in the first Rolex 24 At Daytona the team entered in 2004, knows that it will take a lot of things to go right to make it into victory circle, and team owner Mike Shank is pleased with what he has seen out of Wilson and Allmendinger in testing leading up to the race.

"We expected a lot out of them, but they have really exceeded our goals on just about every front," said team owner Mike Shank. "Justin has some experience in these kinds of races, and A.J. is just a bulldog in the car, so they are a great addition for us. We were also impressed with how focused they are, and they have also done a really good job working with Oz and Mark not just on set-up, but also working together to sort out our driver changes and some of the other small details that can have a big effect during the race."

The 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona will get underway beginning at 12:00 ET on January 28, with Speed Channel providing over thirteen hours of live coverage, commencing with the race start at noon.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic Championship. With several race wins under his belt, Shank was named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR joined the Rolex ranks in 2004. MSR has four Rolex Sports Car Series podiums, with Mike Borkowski, Paul Mears Jr., Kenny Wilden, Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson, and Burt Frisselle as drivers.


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Justin Wilson , A.J. Allmendinger , Carl Russo , Mike Borkowski , Paul Mears Jr. , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Jaguar Racing , Michael Shank Racing