Michael Shank Racing returns to Daytona looking for an upturn in fortunes (28 June 04)--Michael Shank Racing (MSR) returns to Daytona International Speedway looking for an upturn in fortunes this week in the Paul Revere 250 as the small team ...
Michael Shank Racing returns to Daytona looking for an upturn in fortunes
(28 June 04)--Michael Shank Racing (MSR) returns to Daytona International Speedway looking for an upturn in fortunes this week in the Paul Revere 250 as the small team continues to fight its way through the Rolex Sports Car Series season. The famed Daytona track was the site of MSR's Grand Am debut in January, which saw the team overcome several obstacles early in the event to fight their way back and finish fourth.
Drivers Oswaldo Negri, Jr. and Burt Frisselle scored a third-place finish in the teams next outing at Homestead, but MSR has not yet been able to make a return visit to the podium despite showing speed at every event. Award-winning team owner Mike Shank knows the team has to keep up the fight, and is relishing the late-Thursday evening race.
"We really have everything we need to win -good power and speed out of the car, fast and consistent drivers, fantastic pit stops--everything it takes to win in Grand-Am, but we just haven't had a race recently where someone didn't crash into us, so really we just have to keep concentrating on doing the things we do well, and look for some luck," said Shank. "Everyone on this team is really hungry, myself included, to get back up on the podium, so we will be shooting for that at Daytona."
The team has refused to let the setbacks distract from the focal point of the team-winning.
"Well, I hope we win!" a smiling Negri said when asked what he was looking for this weekend. "And the thing is, I know what have what it takes to do it," said former Formula 3 standout Negri. "I am really pleased with how this team works toward getting a better car every time we go out. Mike has a fire to win that is clear to everyone on the team, and I think it helps to get that extra little bit of performance out of everyone on the team. It really motivates me and the guys to do our absolute best."
Negri's teammate Burt Frisselle has been soaking up information like a sponge thus far in his rookie Rolex season, and has been a quick study in the subtleties of endurance racing after making the step up from the ultra-competitive Barber Dodge Pro Series. Frisselle is also looking forward to racing somewhere that he didn't have to learn the track layout in the first session of the weekend.
"I raced once at Daytona before in a Skip Barber event, and it was absolutely nuts with all those little cars running in the draft! This will be completely different with the size of the cars and the power behind them, but I know its going to be a busy race every lap, for sure."
The Daytona event is the first oval track-based road course, or 'stadium track,' that the series has visited after having the last two rounds on natural road courses, but Frisselle is looking forward to finding the fast way around in his Lexus-Doran.
"It's a really special track-not just the history there, but also as a challenge for the drivers with the high speeds on the banks, and the slow speeds in the infield, which has very little grip, so you are making compromises to get the best lap, and the team that does the best job to make the fewest compromises will take the win.
The team, which led Lexus' first lead lap in Daytona Prototype competition at the Rolex 24 in Daytona, is also aggressively pursuing team partners in order to secure the funding required to race the full season and has worked hard to make the most of assets the team has to compete with the bigger budget teams.
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.