Valiante and Negri Lead the Charts For Michael Shank Racing at Homestead Strong start to 2011 campaign in unofficial testing (Homestead, FL) 3 December 2010- As the final laps of 2010 clicked off at Homestead Miami Speedway in preparation for...
Valiante and Negri Lead the Charts For Michael Shank Racing at Homestead
Strong start to 2011 campaign in unofficial testing
(Homestead, FL) 3 December 2010- As the final laps of 2010 clicked off at Homestead Miami Speedway in preparation for the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal season, Michael Shank Racing was once again in strong form as team drivers Michael Valiante and Ozz Negri were atop the charts for the second day in the unofficial timing results on Thursday.
The test saw the return of the Riley machine that was nearly destroyed in a horrific fire at Watkins Glen with Valiante behind the wheel, and Michael Shank Racing's excellent preparation was on display as Valiante posted the quickest unofficial time of the test with the same Riley that was a ball of flame the last time he drove it. Valiante also spent time behind the wheel of the No. 60 Crown Royal Ford Riley as he rotated in with Negri and Pew as the team continued to work with the new GRAND-AM paddle-shift system.
"It's amazing to be back in this car given what it was like the last time I was in it!" said Valiante, who recently added another line on his karting resume with a podium result in the SuperNationals event in Las Vegas for ItalKart. "We are still working to find out everything we can about the new Continental Tires and see what they like set-up wise, and this was a really productive test. It was good to also get into the 60 car and see what that car felt like and be able to offer some feedback on the paddle shifters. All in all we had a very good two days down here and now everyone is focused on January and the 24."
The test also saw the return of some familiar faces as the team pits once again played host to two different Trueman Award winners as well as some new and exciting talents who were on site as the teams Rolex 24 At Daytona plans continue to develop.
"This test went about as well as we could have possibly hoped, and I'd have to say I'm proud of this team and not just how well we worked this week, but also to see that Riley back out there and running so fast, says a lot about the work the guys have done back in the shop to put us in this position," said Shank. "Of course, it's just a test and we have a lot of work to do yet, but we set out some very clear goals for the week and I feel like we checked everything off the list to get ready not just for the 24, but also for when we are back here again in March."
The test, which also provided teams with data to optimize set-ups for the new Continental Tires that are the new control tire for the Rolex Sports Car Series, saw Negri atop the charts in the afternoon session on Thursday. Fellow Crown Royal pilot Pew showed some of the strongest pace he's had to date on the 2.3-mile Homestead track, with the south Florida resident relishing the new challenge on offer as GRAND-AM moves to the Continental Tire for 2011.
"I'm very encouraged with how strong we were this week and it felt like we just kept filling our (engineering) notebooks with more and more information," said the notoriously hard-working Negri, who spends hours pouring over data to continue to find more speed for the car. "John had a very good day on Wednesday and I have to tell you, was even more impressive on Thursday. He works so hard, and it's great when he not only puts up some of the times that he did on fresh tires, but also with some good pace all the way through the stint. I think this new tire package is going to put more into the drivers hands, and that should be an advantage for us. Daytona can not come soon enough!"
The trip to Daytona International Speedway will see the team return for the ROAR Before the 24 January 7-9, with the 49th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona slated to take the green flag on January 29th at 3:00 PM ET.