Michael Shank Racing continues development program with an eye towards victory After moving to within just four points of the Rolex Sports Car Series championship leader on the strength of another competitive team result at Phoenix International...
Michael Shank Racing continues development program with an eye towards victory
After moving to within just four points of the Rolex Sports Car Series championship leader on the strength of another competitive team result at Phoenix International Raceway earlier this month, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) is not sitting still, making the most of the break leading up to the next race to develop the car as the team chases down their first victory in Rolex competition.
MSR's Lexus-powered Doran combination has certainly proven quick on the oval-based road courses in the early stages of the season, with the team notching a strong fourth in class finish in the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona before scoring a podium result at Homestead and qualifying third at both Homestead and Phoenix. MSR has also led laps in two of the first three events, including the first lead lap for Lexus in the Daytona Prototype category.
The team is now focusing on preparing for a different kind of race track, as the next two rounds, at Mont Tremblant in Canada, and at historic Watkins Glen in New York, are both natural road courses, and will require a different approach to be quick. Award winning team owner Michael Shank has been pleased with his teams progress behind drivers Oswaldo Negri, Jr. and Burt Frisselle, but knows that they will have to continue to improve as a team in order to keep their strong form.
"The Rolex competition is so fierce, that it's pushing us to look at everything we are doing and finding improvements anywhere we can," said Shank "We are hoping to try some things and learn more about the Doran at an upcoming test, and are looking forward to being on some tracks that will let this Lexus stretch its legs. Kevin (Doran) has also been helpful to us as far as getting us what we need to succeed, so we are looking forward to getting back to racing."
With the rules package in Rolex competition focused on creating close racing, there is only a narrow window of allowable modifications to the car, but MSR is hoping to make the most of the car as the team learns more about their new Doran each time they get on track.
"Dale (Wise-team engineer) and the guys in the shop are very clever, I believe," said driver Oswaldo Negri. "They are really thinking through what we will need for these different tracks, and in talking to them as the brief me about what to expect the next time I get in the car, I am always very impressed with what they come up with. I just hope we can translate their good ideas into some good lap times when it counts!"
Negri shared Shank's enthusiasm for the next few rounds, as he also believes the team has the opportunity to continue its strong pace and score some strong results at the longer tracks.
"The Lexus is a really good engine," said a smiling Negri, "...and I don't think we have even been able to really show that yet, so yea, I can't wait to get in the car again!"
The team will test in advance of the next round, on the weekend of May 21-23 at the 6 Hours of Mont Tremblant outside of Montreal in Canada.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, MSR 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 is making the transition to the Rolex Series from open-wheel competition for the 2004 season in the Rolex Sports Car Series, campaigning a Lexus-powered Doran JE4.