Wilden to sub for Mears Jr. in U.S. Sportscar Invitational Columbus, OH (22 April 05)-- Team owner Mike Shank revealed today that Paul Mears Jr., co-driver of the Mears Motor Coach Pontiac-Riley with Mike Borkowski, will not be able to...
Wilden to sub for Mears Jr. in U.S. Sportscar Invitational
Columbus, OH (22 April 05)-- Team owner Mike Shank revealed today that Paul Mears Jr., co-driver of the Mears Motor Coach Pontiac-Riley with Mike Borkowski, will not be able to participate in the upcoming Rolex Sports Car Series event at Laguna Seca owing to previous business commitments during the same weekend.
Standing in for Mears will be Canadian ace Kenny Wilden, who scored second in the 1999 Toyota Atlantic Championship on the strength of two wins and several podium finishes, earning Shank 'Team Owner of the Year' honors.
Wilden has stood in as a substitute driver before, famously taking Derhaag Racing's first win after 194 starts in Trans-Am competition when Wilden won the pole, led the most laps, and had the fastest lap of the race in just his fifth Trans Am start, taking the checkered flag ahead of Boris Said to score the Simple Green 'Clean Sweep' award.
That he accomplished this at Laguna Seca was not lost on Shank, who has kept in close contact with Wilden and thinks highly of the Canadian talent. Wilden most recently served duty as a spotter with Michael Shank Racing at Fontana for the team's run to the podium, helping to call the restarts and keeping the drivers aware of everything that was going on around them.
"It is a shame that Paul had a business conflict that's keeping him from getting back into the car this weekend," said Shank. "He did a great job at Fontana to help us get back onto the podium and the whole team is looking forward to having him race with us again, but at least Kenny was available and he knows Laguna really well. We have worked with him so much in the past that we can just get on with what we need to do this weekend and hopefully not skip a beat," said Shank.
The Laguna event will be the first race for Wilden in the Daytona Prototypes, but he does have experience in the car, having shaken down the team's Doran-Lexus last season when they first took delivery of the car.
"I am pretty comfortable getting around Laguna quickly, so it will just be a matter of getting used to the car and doing as good of a job as possible," said Wilden. "I have worked with Mike and his guys before and I know how good this team is, so hopefully we can keep them moving up in the points like they have been with a good finish at Laguna."
Wilden, who was the IMSA Firehawk Series champion in 1989 and the Players GM Series champion in 1992, has raced in Grand Am Cup on a partial basis since 2001, and is running a full season this year with co-driver Al Wortzman. Wilden and Wortzman put in a strong effort at their last race, hauling the car up from 30th on the grid to take fourth at the finish in Fontana.