Ozz Negri, John Pew, Gustavo Yacaman and Antonio Pizzonia ready for first Grand-Am event at the Austin circuit.
Pataskala, Ohio – While many consumers admit that they love that “...new car smell,” it comes as no surprise that Michael Shank Racing has a particular fondness for “that new track experience.”
Having recently announced the addition of a second Daytona Prototype entry for the 2013 season, Michael Shank Racing is thrilled to be traveling south to Austin, Texas this weekend for the inaugural GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series event at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) as GRAND-AM stages Round 2 of the 12-race championship.
“We’ve been flat-out after the 24, and we are really excited about GRAND-AM going to Austin,” said team owner Mike Shank, who jetted directly from Colombia to Daytona as a guest of Ford Racing as part of the big NASCAR Gen 6 events to kick off the 2013 season. “It (COTA) is a remarkable facility, and we know what kind of show that the Rolex Series puts on so hopefully we can win some new fans out there. For us, it’s a big weekend--not just making the transition from the 24 to a sprint weekend, but everyone in this group is happy to be back to two cars again. There is a lot of excitement about what we are capable of as a team, and I’m one of the most excited!”
Longtime Michael Shank Racing pilots John Pew and Ozz Negri return to the No. 60 Ford-Riley and the team welcomes the return of Gustavo Yacaman as well as the addition of Antonio Pizzonia to the No. 6 Daytona Prototype. It marks the first time since 2010 that Michael Shank Racing will field a two-car effort for the full season.
Yacaman has two Rolex Series starts under his belt and is already familiar with the Shank team as he competed for Michael Shank Racing in the previous two Rolex 24 At Daytona events – scoring an impressive third place finish in 2012. Though Pizzonia arrives to the team with a vast amount of racing experience, having raced in Formula 1 and Champ Car before taking on the highly competitive Brazilian Stock Car Championship, the COTA event will be his first GRAND-AM start.
All four Shank drivers share an open-wheel background with Negri having run British and International Formula 3, Indy Lights and Barber Dodge while Pew raced both Skip Barber and Star Mazda. Yacaman spent four years in Indy Lights – picking up three wins and 10 podiums and Pizzonia climbed the European open wheel ranks to drive in the premier Formula 1 category with Jaguar and Williams.
In last month’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 60 Ford-Riley of Pew, Negri, AJ Allmendinger, and Justin Wilson staged a huge comeback to finish third after an early-race setback saw the team fall seven laps down. But the relentless hard work of both the crew and drivers saw the No. 60 machine return to the lead lap and battle among the top-three in the closing stages of the race. The team was unable to keep the points from the effort after the race due to a technical infraction that was announced a week following the conclusion of the event, but the group has that firmly in the rear view and is looking ahead to COTA to make up lost ground in the championship hunt by scoring victory in GRAND-AM’s debut at the 3.4-mile Texas road course.
With limited track time squeezed into the two-day COTA schedule, having two cars to gather data at the challenging 20-turn road course built for Formula 1 machinery will be crucial for the Shank squad.
Michael Shank Racing