Laguna Seca: Michael Shank Racing preview

Michael Shank Racing ready to go for Laguna Road &Track 250 a big race weekend for MSR with two entries as the team looks to build on podium momentum from round three... (Columbus, OH)- April 26 --With two cars, four drivers, and nearly ...

Michael Shank Racing ready to go for Laguna

Road &Track 250 a big race weekend for MSR with two entries as the team looks to build on podium momentum from round three...

(Columbus, OH)- April 26 --With two cars, four drivers, and nearly twenty team members, all of Michael Shank Racing is looking forward to this weekends' Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The race, round four of fourteen in the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series, will feature two Michael Shank Racing entries for the first time since the team joined the Rolex ranks in 2004, and is the first Rolex race to be staged at the historic California facility.

Paul Mears Jr., who tag-teamed with Mike Borkowski to take the Mears Motor Coach Riley-Pontiac to the podium in round three at California Speedway, will unfortunately not be able to join the team this weekend due to previous business commitments. Canadian ace Kenny Wilden, who has a long history of success with Michael Shank Racing, has been tabbed to substitute for Mears in the #6 car and will partner with Borkowski for the weekend. Wilden and Borkowski both scored wins in their respective rookie seasons in Trans-Am competition, and should be a potent duo this weekend.

The second Michael Shank Racing entry will see Star Mazda Pro Series driver Mark Patterson joined by Oswaldo Negri Jr, in a Lexus-Riley combination. Negri, who scored two podiums during a breakout 2004 season with the team, has already established good communication with Patterson as his driver coach in the Mazda ranks, and the two recently tested the Riley-Lexus in advance of this weekend's race.

With all the preparation required for the second entry, a recent test in South Carolina, and a last-minute driver change, one would not be surprised if team owner Mike Shank was feeling a bit overwhelmed, but the award-winning team owner is pumped up about the race weekend.

"It's been busy for sure, but we are completely ready to go," said Shank. "It's a weekend everyone connected to the team has been looking forward to for quite some time, and we can't wait to get out there. We wish that Paul (Mears) could be out there with us, but hopefully we can get a good result for him this weekend."

Since moving his team into the Rolex category, Shank has seen his team and their drivers thrive on the chance to show how talented they are week in and week out, with the teams last outing resulting in a run to the podium at Fontana. Shank has been pleased with his decision to go Rolex racing, and sees this weekend as proof positive of some of the opportunity that exists.

"This is the most guys we have had on-site for a race weekend since I started this team back in 1994," said Shank. "It's just a great thing for us to have two cars in the race, to have Oswaldo and Kenny racing with us again for the weekend, and to head out there knowing we have a competitive chance for a good result this weekend."

The team has experience with multi-car campaigns from their time in Toyota Atlantics and scored multiple top-five finishes at Laguna Seca in the category. The engineering staff at Michael Shank Racing, with Dale Wise continuing to oversee the #6 car, and Dave Kanning engineering the #60 car, is looking forward to working with twice the amount of data this weekend.

"It's a track that is new to everybody as far as finding the best set-ups for the Daytona Prototypes," said Wise. "Everyone is going to be trying to figure it out, and hopefully we can use that to our advantage to find the best set up, experimenting with both cars to try different things out and find solutions faster."

The drivers are all also relishing the weekend, as they will get to compete in one of the most competitive categories in motorsport on one of the most exciting tracks in North America.

"I feel bad that Paul (Mears) can't be a part of the weekend, but Kenny is a great guy and a fast driver so I am looking forward to working with him this weekend," said Borkowski. "This should be an interesting race, because I think the track will be pretty difficult to pass on, so track position and pit stops are likely to play even more of a role than normal. Rolex racing is so competitive, that you have to bring your best effort to every race weekend to even hope for a good result like we had at Fontana, so I am looking forward to the challenge this weekend."

Kenny Wilden, who won at Laguna Seca the first time he raced a Trans-Am car there, is counting on making the most of the working relationships he has with the team, forged during his days as a race-winning Toyota Atlantic pilot with the team.

"I have worked with (engineers) Dale Wise, Dave Kanning, and (crew chief) Darrin Pigg before, so we can pick up right away and just get down to work, and Mike (Borkoswki) and I have already developed some communication with each other about the car just working together during the Fontana weekend, so we can just get down to work right from the start," said Wilden.

The appointment of Wilden to the car also pleased Michael Shank Racing team sponsor Graydon Elliot Capital.

"As a Canadian company, we are naturally excited to have a Canadian driver of Kenny's caliber on board with Michael Shank Racing for the Laguna weekend," said Graydon Elliot Group CEO Rodney Gelineau. "Hopefully Kenny will be able to help the team continue to move up in the points standings with another strong race."

The second Michael Shank Racing entry, a Lexus-Riley combination, will be driven by Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri. Patterson has several race wins under his belt at the track in Skip Barber competition, and the Star Mazda series racer is looking forward to charging down the corkscrew behind the wheel of a powerful Daytona Prototype.

"You can't really pick one favorite part of the track, but if I had to, the fast downhill section of turns nine and ten are really rewarding," said Patterson. "Laguna has a little bit of everything with some slower, more technical corners as well as some very fast sweepers that require accuracy and some faith as well! I am looking forward to working with Oswaldo again, and the team impressed me in the test with how professional and prepared they were, so this should be a good weekend for us."

2004 RaceSite.com "Rising Star" Oswaldo Negri simply can't wait to get back in action this weekend in the #60 MatlinPatterson Asset Management machine.

"I am just really excited about the race weekend and getting into a competitive car this weekend," said Negri. "The test went well, Mark is doing a really good job in the car, and of course to be working with all Mike's guys again is such a pleasure for me. It absolutely brings my game up another level to be working with these guys, so I am happy about the opportunity to race in Rolex again, and to do it at Laguna Seca is going to just be fantastic."

The Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be shown live May 1st on Speed Channel at 3:00 PM EST.

Michael Shank Racing finished in third place in the Ferrari Maserati 400k at California Speedway with drivers Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski after making a strong charge to the front in the second half of the race. The result is the third podium appearance for the Michael Shank Racing squad in Rolex competition since joining the category at the beginning of 2004.

Michael Shank Racing 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 joined the Rolex ranks in 2004, leading the first race it entered and making two podium appearances with drivers Burt Frisselle and Oswaldo Negri, Jr.

Michael Shank Racing benefits from the support of team partners including the Mears Transportation Group (www.mearstransportation.com) and Graydon Elliot Capital (www.graydonelliott.com). Canadian based Investment Banking and Securities firm Graydon Elliott Capital specializes in a wide range of financial advisory services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection with the Michael Shank Racing team to continue its expansion into the US. Visit www.graydonelliott.com for more information.

-SGM-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Burt Frisselle , Skip Barber , Mike Borkowski , Paul Mears Jr. , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank , Johnny Rutherford , Sam Hornis
Teams Michael Shank Racing