Homestead: Michael Shank Racing preview

MSR's new drivers eager to show their speed New Drivers Burt Frisslle of Kihei, Hawaii, and Oswaldo Negri, of Miami, Florida, will make their first start in the ...

MSR's new drivers eager to show their speed

New Drivers

Burt Frisslle of Kihei, Hawaii, and Oswaldo Negri, of Miami, Florida, will make their first start in the #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Doran JE4 this weekend at the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.

The race will be the first in the category for Frisselle, who ran a strong rookie campaign in the Barber Dodge Pro Series last season in addition to a select schedule in the American Le Mans Series and has been staying sharp in the off season with a busy regimen of karting competition.

"I am really looking forward to this weekend," said Frisselle. "The test went so well, and we just kept getting faster each time out. The Lexus has so much power to play with, it's a blast to drive. This will be my first time racing at Homestead, so I am looking forward to getting some laps under my belt and I can't wait to run up on the banking."

Negri brings some experience to the equation, as he ran very competitively in the DP class last season and is eager to get back to Rolex competition.

Expectations

"We are looking forward to going racing at Homestead this weekend," said Shank "We had a great test, and Burt and Oswaldo really got up to speed right away, and from there we just kept improving, so we are hoping we can translate those efforts into some good results here this weekend. Also going back to the sprint format is closer to what our background is, and hopefully that will give us an advantage. We are still just scratching the surface of the potential this car has, and its very exciting for everyone involved with the program."

New Format

The Homestead race will be a 250-mile sprint, which will require a much different approach than the teams last race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which saw the Shank racing machine score a fast finish to take fourth in the Daytona Prototype class after overcoming early set backs caused by the constant rain. The sprint format is closer to the style of competition that has seen Michael Shank Racing excel, as the team has an extensive background with many wins in the Toyota Atlantic Championship.

Great Test

Negri and Frisselle both got their first test in the Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Doran this week, and were extremely impressed with both the progress the team was able to make with the car, and with the level of preparation and professionalism of the MSR crew.

"We had a fantastic test at Roebling Road this week, and we are all eager to get back onto the track to apply what we learned to the Homestead facility," said Negri. "Homestead a great track, and should be VERY fast with the new banking on the oval, so I would expect it to be extremely competitive."

New Track

The Homestead Miami Speedway was repaved last summer and was also reconfigured, with the track getting a new look as the corners were changed for the third time in the tracks history to now feature heavy banking in the corners. The banking is between 18 and 20 degrees, providing multiple lines for racers to use.

The Grand Am track is 2.3 mils long, and the cars will have to be tuned to maximize both the high speed section of the track-from the long back straight, banked ovals, and then through the front straight before the cars dive down into the infield road course, which is comprised of several tight corners and will put a premium on mechanical grip. It will be the job of the team to find the best compromise between the two sections of the track in order to put the fastest laps on the board.

The Rolex Sports Car Series race is set for Saturday, Feb. 28 from 3 pm to 5:45 pm, on the 2.3-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway infield road course in Homestead, Fla. The race will air on Speed Channel on Sunday, March 7 at 4 pm. all times ET

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.

-msr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Michael Shank , Johnny Rutherford , Sam Hornis
Teams Michael Shank Racing