Michael Shank Racing on the pace early in Daytona testing (Daytona Beach, FL) 5 January 06-- The ...
Michael Shank Racing on the pace early in Daytona testing
(Daytona Beach, FL) 5 January 06-- The #60 Michael Shank Racing Flight Options Lexus Riley of Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, A.J. Allmendinger, and Justin Wilson began preparations for the 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Thursday, as the bright orange and black machine ran third quickest in the second afternoon session with a fast lap time of 1:46.57-seconds at Daytona International Raceway. The test day is the first of three for the Rolex Sports Car Series field, as nearly eighty cars participated in the first official track activity of the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season.
"Things are going well for us so far," smiled team owner Mike Shank. "We were fast right off the truck, and the only thing the guys are worried about tonight is making sure the car is clean and ready to go tomorrow morning, so it's great to have a trouble-free day and to make as much progress as we did today. Justin (Wilson) and A.J. (Allmendinger) are a great addition to our team, and their feedback from the car is very similar to what Mark (Patterson) and Oswaldo (Negri) were experiencing in the car, so they are finding a good compromise with the set-up between them all, and that's going to be very important to us for setting a good strong race pace."
For the 2004 Champ Car Roshfrans Rookie of the year Allmendinger, the day marked the first time he'd taken to a closed-cockpit car at Daytona, but he was enjoying every minute of it.
"It takes some time to get used to all the traffic!" said Allmendinger. "It can be a bit frustrating as far as posting a fast lap time, but that's the way it's going to be for the race, so we have to get the car good for those conditions. I'm having a lot of fun in the car, and am looking forward to getting even faster tomorrow."
The test also marked a reunion of sorts as Allmendinger was rejoined with Negri, who oversaw Allmendinger's run to the 2002 championship in his role as driver coach and test driver in the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
"It's fun to be working with A.J. again, and Justin has a lot of experience with the endurance races, so this was a good first day for us," said 2004 Racesite.com "Rising Star" winner Oswaldo Negri. "I haven't driven on this track for quite some time, so it was good for us to be fast right away and get to work on fine tuning the car for what we'll need for the race. I know I say it all the time, but this team is really amazing, and I am very excited about how competitive we should be in this race."
The test will continue on Friday and Saturday, with the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona getting underway in three weeks' time.
The Michael Shank Racing staff and crew would like to extend their heartfelt condolences on the passing of Paul Mears's mother.
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.