Michael Shank Racing Gets Fast Start to 2011 Rolex Campaign at Daytona
(Daytona Beach, FL) 9 January 2011- The 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona will see Michael Shank Racing make its most comprehensive campaign to date as the team will stage a three-pronged campaign to capture the Rolex Pyramid trophy and the Rolex Chronograph watches that go with it to open the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car presented by Crown Royal season.
The effort picked up momentum this weekend as GRAND-AM staged the traditional "Roar Before the 24" test at Daytona International Speedway with the team taking to the newly repaved circuit for the first time while also looking to find the best set-ups for the new Continental Tire that GRAND-AM will utilize for the full Rolex Sports Car Series field starting with the big opening round at Daytona International Speedway.
The three car effort includes the No. 60 Crown Royal Ford-Riley that will be co-driven by John Pew, Ozz Negri, Michael Valiante, and Marc Goossens, the No. 23 United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing Johnnie Walker/ FXI/ UBS Ford-Riley line up of Zak Brown, Mark Blundell, Martin Brundle, and Mark Patterson, and the No. 6 Continental Tire Flip 4 Four Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ford-Dallara of AJ Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, and Justin Wilson.
The team performed well right from the drop of the first green flag on the weekend, with each of the three machines making progress through the sessions. While the team will look to once again have a strong presence in qualifying (Michael Shank Racing scored both positions on the front row in 2008 and started the race from the outside pole in 2010), the goal for the weekend was mainly focused on developing the consistent speed, stable handling, and overall race pace that is needed to stage a successful run for the podium.
But that race pace focus didn't prevent the team from posting some very good lap times, including leading the night practice session on Saturday with the No. 6 Continental Tire-liveried Ford-Dallara and then setting the third-fastest time of the Sunday morning session with the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley.
"For the first time for us to be running three Daytona Prototypes, the test went really well. And I think that's just down to all the planning we've done to be ready, and having a lot of exceptional people doing an exceptional job," said team owner Mike Shank. "As prepared as we felt like we were last year, we feel even better about being ready for the race here at the end of the month. All three of our cars could win this race. I want to thank Mike Curb, Continental Tire, Ford Racing, Rocky Fork, and Brad Frisselle for being a part of this and hopefully we can just put everything we learned this weekend to good use when we come back at the end of the month."
The 49th running of the Rolex 24 will open up with practice and qualifying on Thursday, January 27th.