Michael Shank Racing in top five and top ten at Laguna in first double Rolex entry (Monterey, CA) May 1 --Despite a cut tire, some serious bumping and banging out on the track, and some bad luck with traffic, Michael Shank Racing scored 5th and...
Michael Shank Racing in top five and top ten at Laguna in first double Rolex entry
(Monterey, CA) May 1 --Despite a cut tire, some serious bumping and banging out on the track, and some bad luck with traffic, Michael Shank Racing scored 5th and 9th in Sunday's Road & Track 250 at Laguna Seca on the strength of some outstanding effort by their drivers and fast work over the wall by the pit crew.
The #6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac-Riley of Mike Borkowski and Kenny Wilden recovered from a cut tire to power up from nineteenth in the order midway through the race up to take fifth at the checkered flag.
The #60 MatlinPatterson Asset Management Lexus-Riley of Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson started from the pole position, but some bad breaks in traffic and an unlucky yellow flag meant that the second Michael Shank Racing entry was fighting to get back on the lead lap later in the race. Patterson and Negri were up to the task, getting their lap back and fighting back to take ninth at the finish.
Team owner Mike Shank always has the big picture in mind, so while he was hoping to return to the podium again, he knows that the team and their drivers all stepped up their game for the teams first Rolex race weekend with two entries to come up with a double top-ten finish.
"Kenny did a great job for us this weekend to jump in the car and put in the race effort that he did, just driving his guts off and wowing everybody," said Shank. "He fought hard all day, from being way down after that tire went down all the way up to third at one point, and everything in between."
Wilden drove in place for Paul Mears Jr., who was unable to make the race this weekend due to prior business commitments. The race was the first race start in the Daytona Prototype category, and after taking some time to get his bearings, Wilden left nothing on the table once the race got started.
"The car was just awesome all weekend," said Wilden. "I was cautious with the car on Friday and Saturday, just trying to get a feel for what it liked and learning where the limit was. Today, I feel like I got everything I could out of it and was able to be on the attack most of the time."
The tight Laguna Seca circuit, which is just 2.238-miles long, created a lot of logjams in traffic as the Daytona Prototypes worked to scythe their way through the slower GT cars.
"I was surprised at some of the ridiculous moves people were making out there, it was just brutal, but at a track like this where passing is so difficult and with the cars being so closely matched, I guess its not too surprising," said Wilden. "By the time I turned the car over to Mike, it was pretty damaged, but I have to say I was impressed with how strong the car was, because I got hit several times, and I didn't think it was going to hold up, but it just kept on going."
Mike Borkowski took the car over for the second half of the race, taking over the car in fifth position and fighting up to fourth in the closing laps, but he was forced to cede the spot on the last lap of the race and come home in fifth.
"Kenny got hit a couple times from behind, so by the time I got the car, the rear suspension was completely out of line and the car was crazy loose, and it was all I could do to hang on to it at the end," said Borkowski. "We were hoping to be a threat for the podium so it's a bit disappointing, but we can't be too upset about a top five in this series, because its so incredibly competitive and we saw that anything can happen out there."
The #60 car started from the pole and bolted off into the lead at the start, with Negri catching up and lapping the GT cars after just three laps. The GT traffic turned out to be more of a hassle than he was hoping, as he lost momentum in traffic and had to cede the lead as a freight train of cars took advantage.
"I had to keep the car in good shape for the end of the race and for Mark to take over," said Negri. "Mark did a great job when he took the car over, and I am really happy for him here today. Of course, the Michael Shank Racing guys did another outstanding job and it was great to be working with the Lexus guys again, so I am pretty pleased. Our hope this weekend was to finish the race in the top ten, and to have got the pole yesterday was very special, so overall it was a good weekend for all of us."
Mike Shank had a lot to look after this weekend as his team took on the challenge of two entries, and he was pleased with how everyone got the job done this weekend.
"Mark did a great job in the car, stepping it up in the race to do laps that were a second and a half better than he'd done all weekend, so we were impressed with him," said Shank. "He was great to have around all weekend in and out of the car, so hopefully he will come back and race with us again soon."
For his part, the swift South African Patterson was all smiles after his stint in the car, where he moved from fourteenth after the pit stop up to ninth before turning the car back over to Negri.
"What a thrill!" enthused Patterson. "It was so competitive out there and everybody was just driving 'elbows up' fighting for every inch of track and it was pretty much full contact. But it was a great race and the dedication of this Michael Shank Racing team is just amazing and to get a top ten in our first start is really something else, because we saw how easy it was to get into trouble with other cars, so to get out of here with the race car in one piece and get a solid finish-so it was a good weekend for us."