Michael Shank Racing - Patterson aims for Trueman Award

Brumos Racer JC France and Michael Shank Racing driver Mark Patterson will go head to head this weekend for the Trueman Award (DAYTONA BEACH/NEW YORK CITY) 16 September 2008--Two drivers are vying for the Jim Trueman Award honors in Grand Am...

Brumos Racer JC France and Michael Shank Racing driver Mark Patterson will go head to head this weekend for the Trueman Award

(DAYTONA BEACH/NEW YORK CITY) 16 September 2008--Two drivers are vying for the Jim Trueman Award honors in Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series competition as Brumos Porsche's JC France leads Michael Shank Racing's Mark Patterson by 59 points with just the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 to run this Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park. The Trueman Award is a competition for drivers who do not derive their primary source of income from driving in the series, and utilizes a combination of miles contested and finishing position to keep score.

Entering the Miller race weekend, both drivers are on a strong streak, as France and co-driver Joao Barbosa have finished fourth in four of the last six races, as Patterson enters the Miller weekend fresh from a New Jersey Motorsports Park victory with Oswaldo Negri.

Reflecting both the competition and camaraderie of the honor, JC and Mark each took time to talk about the Miller race, their competition, and how they'd each like to see the season close out:

What was the best on-track duel you had with Mark this season?

JC France: Mark's been pretty fast this season, so I haven't seen him a whole lot on track, but we have managed to cross paths here and there. One occasion that does come to mind was at Barber. Coming off one of the full course cautions, I got a pretty good jump on the restart and in the short run I was able to get up on him a little bit. He was just beginning to reel me back in as the run went on, but shortly after that I had contact with a GT car. That caused some damage to the rear spoiler and cost me the position, but I guess that's one of the closest runs we had this season that I can recall.

What was the best on-track duel you had with JC this season?

Mark Patterson: Best duel: there've been many and unfortunately the best happened when JC got by me, like at Barber in Birmingham, AL, but it will never happen again. Never.

What does the Trueman award mean to you?

JC France: It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, especially since I'm actually in contention for it this year! Seriously, though, I think it is special to all of us who are in that group, because none of us are there to make money - we are only there because we love racing. To be able to take home the award would just be the icing on the cake for me. While I'm not sure I would claim to be fully deserving of it, winning would be an honor I would cherish for the rest of my life.

What does the Trueman award mean to you?

Mark Patterson: The Trueman Award is a great motivator for the non-pro drivers to duke it out for a trophy all-of-their own. Anything commemorating the great Jim Trueman means a lot to me. Being a past Trueman Award winner, it would be just icing on the cake to be the first two-time winner ever in the Grand Am record books. Winner, not whiner.

What do you think about Miller? Mark won that race in 2006 and is coming off another victory - does that give him an edge?

JC France: I think they've certainly got momentum going for them, and they've been a strong team all year. They've had a couple of instances of bad luck that have held them back in the points, but I think almost everybody in the series has had their share of bad luck this year. The fact that they have won at Miller stands out, too, because it has been a track where I have personally struggled a bit in the past.

I would say we have an even bigger edge with the strength of our co-drivers, though. Joao Barbosa is one of the best in the series, and his performance is certainly one of the reasons we have done so well this year. And when it comes to endurance racing, no one can match Hurley Haywood's record - so I am just staying focused and hoping I can pick it up there this year and end the day the way I started it - still in the lead.

What do you think about Miller? You won that race in 2006 and are coming off another victory - does that give you an edge?

Mark Patterson: Miller, for length, variety of corners, passing potential and just sheer racing facility quality, is hard to beat. At the Grand Am inaugural Miller race 2 years ago, watching Oswaldo holding off Michael McDowell, was more than the nerves could bear. So we won the race, then won again at a "first time" track in New Jersey 2 weeks ago, but far more important, we went ahead and hired Dalziel to help us win the final race in Utah this coming weekend. We have an edge and it's very sharp.

What you think of Mark Patterson?

JC France: (*As a take-off on the GEICO Commercial featuring Mike Wallace's young cousin) "Whatever! Mark's out there trying to sell insurance. I'm out there to win races. People see Mark on the track, and think Westfield Insurance. I'm not saying I wouldn't go fishing with the man, all I'm saying is he comes near me, I'm putting him in the wall. Listen 'go-kart track, grocery store, those remote-control boats'; when it comes to Mark Patterson, the story ends with me putting him in the wall".

What you think of JC France?

JC: I admire JC's sculptured, muscled form (but my wife does too and that's a bit troubling); I admire his terrifying demeanor (on full display a few years ago during a Mexican professional boxing tournament that everyone else thought was a Grand Am race); I admire his 200 pound weight advantage as an ex-pro football player; and most important, I admire him for not tracking me down after I drew that his caricature for the Brumos Porsche press release posted on the Grand Am website a few weeks ago. I'll admire JC a whole lot more if he comes second this year in the Trueman competition.

Actually - good luck to JC and the Brumos Porsche 59 team for what promises to be a very exciting race - they've been knocking on victory's door for quite a while now. Our job is to keep the doorknocker attached.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mike Wallace , Michael McDowell , JC France , Joao Barbosa , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing