Michael Shank, owner of Michael Shank Racing, hasn't had a race for his Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype program since the Rolex 24 in late January. Shank talked with This Week In Ford Racing about how his team has prepared during their lengthy...
Michael Shank, owner of Michael Shank Racing, hasn't had a race for his Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype program since the Rolex 24 in late January. Shank talked with This Week In Ford Racing about how his team has prepared during their lengthy time off and how he thinks they'll do at this weekend's Grand-Am Rolex Series race at Virginia International Raceway.
Michael Shank- Owner, Michael Shank Racing
IT'S BEEN A PRETTY LONG LAYOFF SINCE YOUR LAST RACE. DOES IT ALMOST FEEL LIKE THE SEASON OPENER AGAIN? "Yes, it sure has, it's been an agonizing amount of time for us. Never in all my years of racing have I had to go through this, so it's been tough. The good part is, we have got the cars way better than they have ever been. We've charged the systems and together with Ford Engineering have got the cars in probably their best place engineering-wise, and we're ready to go racing here."
YOU TESTED LAST MONTH IN HOMESTEAD. CAN YOU GIVE AN INSIGHT TO HOW THAT WENT? "Both cars were exceptionally fast the whole time. The times are unofficial - that's how Grand-Am does it - but we were P1 or P2 pretty much every session on both days. Having never done that before in the last five years, it bodes well for what we have coming up here in the next couple races. We won at New Jersey last year, and we finished fourth and eighth at VIR last year, so we've got two tracks that we know we're good at. We got a pretty good-size gain from where we were last year with the cars. At this point, I'm just anxious to get to the weekend."
YOU SAID THE CARS WERE BETTER THAN WHERE YOU HAD THEM, BUT YOU WERE EXTREMELY STRONG AT THE ROLEX. IT WAS JUST A MECHANICAL PROBLEM THAT TOOK YOU OUT. "Yeah, that's what I mean. Really, the good-news stuff that we had developed on the car started at Daytona now has gone to Homestead. It looks like we're on to something. We're doing some different things on the car that we've developed with the guys at Ford Racing Engineering and it looks like it's going to pay off for us. I'll be able to tell you more next week, but it looks pretty good so far."
HOW DO YOU THINK JOHN PEW AND MICHAEL VALIANTE WILL DO THIS WEEKEND? "I think they're going to be really strong. John's like Mark Patterson in the other car. Both Mark and John are improving at an incredible rate every year the last couple years they've been with us. They're able to keep the cars in the top 10 pretty much the whole time and hand it over to Michael and Oz [Ozzie Negri Jr.], so it's typical of the No. 6 car. Michael qualified on pole last year there in the SunTrust car. He drove for them last year and there's no reason we can't think that when Michael gets in our car that he can't do the same. He's very strong at VIR"
YOU MENTIONED OZZIE NEGRI. HE KEPT SHARP BY RUNNING THE KONI CHALLENGE AT HOMESTEAD? "Yeah, Oz did, he ran in his off-time. He ran the race in the Rehagen Ford Mustang and they won at Homestead. He's an exceptional talent; he's in his fifth season with us. He knows all the tracks and knows exactly what he wants, he knows exactly how our team functions and he's a pretty awesome guy."
-credit: ford racing