Iowa: Michael Shank Racing race report

Michael Shank Racing continues top-ten streak at Iowa (Newton, IA) 13 July 2007-- Michael Shank Racing scored another double top-ten finish with both team entries in Rolex Sports Car Series competition Friday night at Iowa Speedway. Oswaldo ...

Michael Shank Racing continues top-ten streak at Iowa

(Newton, IA) 13 July 2007-- Michael Shank Racing scored another double top-ten finish with both team entries in Rolex Sports Car Series competition Friday night at Iowa Speedway. Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson finished fifth and Ian James and John Pew crossed the finish line in ninth with the Playboy-liveried Lexus-Riley in the 192-lap Daytona Prototype-only race.

"Oz (Negri) drove one of the best races we've ever seen him run in four years--just an outstanding job," said team owner Mike Shank. "And if things had played out a little differently, Ian would have been right there with him at the end. He was running laps as quick as the leaders and that was key to taking some of those positions late in the race. So I'm happy with our race and it's great to come out of here and move to seventh and eighth in the championship. We'll look for more next week."

Patterson and Pew started the race, which got off to a clean start despite the very tight nature of the 1.3-mile oval-based road course, although Patterson's race didn't open up as planned.

"This may not be the greatest driving track, but the laps are very intense," said Patterson. "I don't know what happened at the start, I think Max (Papis) was napping a bit and I didn't want to get a penalty for moving out of the line to pass him, so I had to back out of it and we lost several spots right out of the gate."

Patterson shrugged it off, and soon after tracked down another Mark, NASCAR star Mark Martin, and passed him for twelfth position. Patterson soon after established a gap back to the 2007 Daytona 500 runner-up before the first of two yellow flags appeared, sending the field into the pits for tires, fuel, and a driver change.

Patterson's quick momentum loss at the start opened up a gap for other competitors to fill, including Pew.

"I just went for the hole," smiled Pew. "I had fun out there and it was nice to get through the start and not get hit by anyone for once! Then I had a nice little run going with Mark (Patterson), and the car just kept getting better as the laps went on. Even though these laps are so quick, it was nice to get into a nice rhythm for a while. Ian did another great job, and it feels good to keep this top-ten streak going for all Mike's guys, because they put a ton of effort and thought into everything they do for these races. Now, I can't wait to get to Barber."

Negri took over from Patterson and worked his way up through the order despite the nearly-impossible nature of passing on the track, garnering as many compliments after the race as he had developed blisters on his hands during it.

"Mark did a great job in his stint and it was great fun to see him having that battle with Mark Martin," smiled Negri. "He's really been working hard, and I have to also thank my engineer Dave Kanning, because he does a great job and puts up with me calling him three or four times a day to talk about how we can make this car go even faster. This whole team works so hard and it's great when everything comes together to get a hard-fought result like this."

Ian James had several big battles as he moved up from deep in the teens up to take ninth in the closing laps of the race, extending the streak of top-ten finishes for the Playboy machine to six consecutive Rolex events.

"Mike and his guys gave me another great car today," said James. "We just kept getting faster as the runs went on. John did a great job and had a good opening stint. It was so rewarding getting by the 23 car there at the end-if we'd have been cruising the last twenty laps, that never would have happened. But we were pushing all the way, and all those tenths add up if you can keep that kind of pace, so it felt great to move up one more spot right before the checker."

While the double top ten finish had the team in a positive mood after the long day at the new Iowa track, it wasn't long before talk of shock settings for next week's race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama came to be the conversation topic, as the team never stops moving forward and looking for improvement.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ian James , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Michael Shank , Mark Martin
Teams Michael Shank Racing