New Jersey Motorsports Park
Michael Shank Racing Targeting Return to Victory Lane in New Jersey
Targeting upward momentum in the championship, Michael Shank Racing will return to GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race action for the American Red Cross 250 and Round 9 of the championship as the team heads east to New Jersey Motorsports Park this weekend.
With a podium finish at Lime Rock Park and a streak of top-five finishes in the previous four races, Michael Shank Racing has proven both quick and consistent in the opening eight rounds of the year. But the team will look for even stronger results this weekend as the GRAND-AM Rolex Series enters the final segments of the 2011 season.
Ozz Negri and John Pew team up once again in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley, with a clear goal of returning to the podium in the Garden State.
Though the New Jersey Motorsports Park podium is uniquely located inside of turn one, the Michael Shank Racing squad fortunately already knows how to get there having won the inaugural race in at the track in 2008 as Negri and Mark Patterson broke in the new track in winning fashion.
“We didn’t roll off the truck as quickly as we had been hoping to in Monterey, but I have to say that it was cool how the team worked together and unlocked more speed from the car over the weekend,” said Negri, who spent last weekend returning to triathlon competition and set some very impressive times, beating scores of competitors many years his junior. “You always have special memories when you return to a track where you have won so I’m looking forward to the weekend. We know there are some new rules in play this weekend, so it will be a new challenge for the teams and engineers to develop the best strategy, but I know my Michael Shank Racing guys are up for it!”
Pew, who has delivered several impressive qualifying runs this year including a career-best of fifth on the grid at Road America, will again look for the quick way around the challenging, 14-turn road course to open the 2.75–hour race from the front of the field before handing the controls over to Negri.
“New Jersey can be a busy place for the drivers!” said Pew, who like Negri has also been using frequent kart outings in the Florida heat to tune up for the high heat of a DP in the middle of the summer. That preparation could come in extra handy as Sunday’s temperatures are slated to be in the upper 90’s.
“This is a place where Michael Shank has traditionally been pretty strong so hopefully we can start the weekend off on the right foot. This isn’t the easiest place to get around GT traffic so that’s going to be another factor for us, as well as making sure that we’ve got a car that makes the most of the Continental Tires through the full stint.”
Currently sixth in the team championship standings, Michael Shank Racing hopes to gain ground in the championship hunt with another successful outing in New Jersey as the team sits just 15 points out of the top-three.
“We’ve had top-five cars every time out since being on the podium at Lime Rock, and even though we’ve had decent speed with the cars, we’ve just had one or two little things here and there keep us from getting back on the podium the last few races,” said team owner Mike Shank. “But as long as we keep improving the car over the weekend and executing with good pit stops and strategy, the results will come. We are really hungry to make a move here in the closing races to end the year with some momentum and being back at a track where we’ve won before could be a good way to kick that off.”
By: michael shank racing