Michael Shank Racing quick in qualifying at Long Beach (Long Beach, CA) 7 April 06-- As he watched teammate Mark Patterson take on his first-ever qualifying session on a street circuit, Oswaldo Negri couldn't stop pointing at the timing...
Michael Shank Racing quick in qualifying at Long Beach
(Long Beach, CA) 7 April 06-- As he watched teammate Mark Patterson take on his first-ever qualifying session on a street circuit, Oswaldo Negri couldn't stop pointing at the timing monitors and smiling.
The South African showed that he was more than up for the challenge, as Patterson improved his times lap after lap, ultimately setting a fast lap time of 1:22.036-seconds on the world famous 1.98-mile Long Beach Grand Prix circuit to earn fifteenth on the grid for Saturday's Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach in the Lexus-powered Flight Options Riley.
"Mark did a phenomenal job today," said team owner Mike Shank. "He's never driven on a street circuit before today, but he just put his head down and didn't think twice about attacking, lap after lap. I think this puts us in a great position for the race and as long as we can avoid any trouble and have a clean race, we should be a threat tomorrow."
The qualifying session was staged using an alternative set-up from the traditional fifteen minute qualifying sessions that the Rolex Series normally employs. The Daytona Prototypes, some twenty-six strong for the Rolex Series Long Beach debut, were split into two groups, with each group getting a full twenty-five minutes to qualify.
"I'm really pleased with the car once again," smiled Patterson. "Mike Shank and his guys just never stop working to find more speed, and I was able to get familiar with the track this morning so I could concentrate on making the most of the car they gave me here in qualifying. It was great that the session ran green the entire time and gave us all the chance to find some space for ourselves out there, and that we had the time to make the most of it."
The condensed track schedule has meant a paucity of running time for the Rolex racers, but the thrill of running on the famed circuit has trumped the tribulations for Patterson.
"The track is really something else for a driver," said Patterson. "Having a wall right at the exit of every corner just means you have to be smart about how you go about trying to get the most out of each corner, each lap. I am really excited about where we ended up today, and hopefully we can have a strong race tomorrow."
The Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach will go green at 4:00 PM local time, with the race being televised by Speed Channel starting at 9:00 PM on Saturday evening.
The No. 60 Flight Options machine is carrying the colors of "The Painted Turtle" this weekend. The Painted Turtle seeks to reach beyond illness, to inspire children with life-threatening diseases to become their greatest selves.The Painted Turtle's mission is to provide a year-round life-changing event for these children and their families. More information is available at www.thepaintedturtle.org.