Lime Rock Park
Michael Shank Racing Returns to Lime Rock Park Podium with run to Second Place
Lakeville, Conn. -- Michael Shank Racing returned to the Lime Rock Park podium on Monday as drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri finished second with the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley in round five of the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve championship.
The race ran at a furious pace, with just one yellow flag slowing the action from laps 2 to 5, with the rest of the 183 lap distance unfolding at a breathtaking rate under sunny and warm conditions. While several contenders struggled with the heat and the pace and had to get out of the car early, Michael Shank Racing drivers were unfazed and emerged from the race ready to celebrate following the best finish of the season.
Pew opened the race from sixth on the grid, his career-best qualifying result to date. And it was no “one lap wonder,” as the opening laps showed. Staying behind the wheel for nearly 70 laps, Pew raced hard for over an hour and ran in the top four and five cars throughout. The huge opening stint was capitalized on as Negri returned to the mix in fifth, one lap down. With just 1.5-miles and fifty seconds marking each lap, the race clicked along as Negri passed the leader on his way to making up over a lap and a half on the eventual winners.
But the gap was too great, and without a full course caution to reset the field, the team raced home to second place in the Memorial Day event to mark an encore visit to the Lime Rock Park podium as the Rolex Sports Car Series staged a dramatic one-day event.
“It is always interesting in these short-format races and with the rain this morning, we didn’t really get much practice time in the car,” said Pew, who also picked up the Pro-Am honors on the day. “But we have some really hard working engineers that got the car spot on right off the trailer. We had a very good car and I felt very confident right away and that made a big difference. I was able to qualify well, and then in the race, I did a long first stint and I was able to keep up with some good laps. Ozz and I have been working very hard, karting all the time and working on fitness and that seemed to pay off today. The heat didn’t really bother us. Great job for the team and great job for Ozz. You are going to see more of this I think this year.”
We’ve had good pace this year...
“We were pretty good right out of the trailer- I’ve been on the phone, every day, with Dale Wise (engineer) to be ready for this weekend and it turned out great,” said Negri. “I’m amazed by the pace that John showed today, he drove like a pro. If he had not driven that well, we would not have made it to the podium today, no question. The crew and engineers gave us the tools to do what we love and be so competitive. We’ve had good pace this year, but just had some small things keep us from getting strong results, so I’m very happy and now just looking forward to Watkins Glen.”
“John drove an outstanding race--he drove great all day in fact with his performance in qualifying putting us up towards the front for us to a move forward from in the race,” said team owner Mike Shank. “Just so impressed with the job he did for us. It’s great to get back up on the podium, but I’ll admit that with a car that was that fast, I really feel like we could have won this race if we got to race the 10 car after a caution. If you have a car that’s capable of winning, you want the shot at going and doing that. But, this was still a good day for us. Some solid points and it’s always good to get on the podium. Hopefully we can go one better next week at Watkins Glen.”