Michael Shank Racing storms to lead but finishes 13th in Grand Prix of Miami Homestead, FL (5 March 05)-- The Michael Shank Racing Riley-Pontiac finished thirteenth in the Grand Prix of Miami after storming to the lead in the opening laps, and...
Michael Shank Racing storms to lead but finishes 13th in Grand Prix of Miami
Homestead, FL (5 March 05)-- The Michael Shank Racing Riley-Pontiac finished thirteenth in the Grand Prix of Miami after storming to the lead in the opening laps, and comfortably controlling the pace in the early going before contact with another car hampered the teams race. Despite losing several laps in the incident, the team rallied to gain more than twenty-five positions by the finish with drivers Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski at the wheel.
Borkowski started the race, and moved up from third on the grid to take second at the start, and then made the pass for the lead on the second lap. Borkowski immediately began to stretch his advantage over the field, but an early caution period regrouped the pack right behind the Mears Motor Coach machine. On the restart, Borkowski again set off from the pack with a string of fast laps, only to once again have to slow for a second yellow flag.
The team elected to take advantage of the caution and brought the car in for fuel and tires, and were on the way again after a quick driver change to get Mears into the car. Several other cars had elected to stay on track during the yellow flag, and Mears began to give chase, but contact from another car while negotiating traffic sent the car into the gravel pit.
"I was right behind another prototype, and was just looking for a good place to pass him," said Mears. "Unfortunately, I think the car ahead of him had a problem or something, because he just stopped, and I had nowhere to go, so we touched, and both went off into the sand trap. It took a few laps to get the car back to the pits, so that really put a damper on our race."
Undeterred, the MSR crew gave the car a quick safety check, new tires, and a full load of fuel, as Mears rejoined the pack in 41st place, and began to work the car back up the order, gaining more than ten positions before turning the car back over to Borkowski.
>From there, Borkowski motored to the finish, picking off position after position to finish in thirteenth at the checkered flag.
"It was a shame with what happened to Paul, because we definitely had a podium car-maybe one that could have given Mike a win today," said Borkowski. "We were as fast as the leaders late in the race even though we were on old tires with a car that was pretty damaged from getting hit. So while its not the result we wanted, it was good that we got to run up front and show how competitive we are."
Team owner Mike Shank was also pleased with the form his team showed this weekend, taking third in qualifying and leading the early stages of the race. While the result wasn't what he was looking for, he knows his team is poised to deliver this kind of performance in the future.
"The guys did a great job, and I know that everyone was optimistic heading into the race because were so quick all weekend, but sometimes these kinds of things happen in racing, so we'll just pack up and start to get ready for Fontana," said Shank. "It was good to see the car up front today, though, and hopefully that's something we'll be seeing more of soon. No question we had a top three car, but we just got a bit unlucky but like yesterday, I'm real proud of how strong we really were today and all weekend, and am looking forward to Fontana."