Michael Shank Racing tests with Patterson and Negri for Laguna Columbus, OH (18 April 05)-- Michael Shank Racing was back in action last week, preparing their second Daytona Prototype entry (MatlinPatterson-sponsored ...
Michael Shank Racing tests with Patterson and Negri for Laguna
Columbus, OH (18 April 05)-- Michael Shank Racing was back in action last week, preparing their second Daytona Prototype entry (MatlinPatterson-sponsored # 60) for the next round of the Rolex Sports Car Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with drivers Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri getting familiar with their Lexus-powered Riley during two days of testing in South Carolina. Despite battling inclement weather, the team made a lot of progress, working through several stages of development work and establishing some all-important chemistry between the crew and the drivers.
It was a bit of a reunion for the team and Negri, who partnered with Burt Frisselle during the 2004 season and scored two podium finishes on the way to taking sixth in the championship standings for the Michael Shank Racing squad. For Patterson, the test was a chance to get to know the team and become more familiar with the Riley-Lexus package after having raced in this year's Rolex 24 in a FABCAR-Lexus.
"These test days knocked a lot of needed chemistry, mechanical steps and basics out of the way," said Patterson. "Oz sets an incredibly high bar for me to match, but he also is fantastic at helping me get there," said Patterson. "We spent a lot of time studying data and he is just tremendous at getting the most out of a car, and out of me as a driver. We all got down to serious business right away and the test has raised my confidence enormously for the outcome at Laguna."
For his part, team owner Mike Shank was happy with the progress the team and its new drivers made during the test.
"It was great to be working with Oz again, and he of course was up to speed right away," said Shank. "Even though the weather didn't really cooperate with us, we got through a lot of what we wanted to accomplish with the car, and Mark just kept getting faster every time he went back out, so we were happy to get the running in that we did, despite the rain. The Laguna weekend is a big one for the team, and this test did a lot to boost our confidence as we get ready to head out to Monterey."
Negri, 2004's racesite.com "Rising Star" co-winner, was glad to be back in a familiar environment working with the Michael Shank Racing guys.
"The weather wasn't great, but it was good to be back in the car, and working with Mike and his guys always brings my motivation level way up," said Negri. "I have been working with Mark in Star Mazda, and he did a great job in the car, so we are all just very excited about Laguna."
When asked about what his impressions of the team were after working with them for two days, Patterson was concise but descriptive.
"Mike and his guys are professional, calm, relentless, focused, with no egos, absolutely religious about racing, tidy, and exhausting," said Patterson, who raced this past weekend at Road Atlanta in the Pro Star Mazda Series. "The Riley Lexus was wonderful and very responsive to changes that the team made during the test. 'Shaggy' (Kevin Kutna) was on hand from TRD, and I swear that guy breaths Lexus fumes!"
The U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be shown live May 1st on Speed Channel at 3:00 PM EST.
Michael Shank Racing was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr. MSR joined the Rolex ranks in 2004, leading the first race it entered and making two podium appearances with drivers Burt Frisselle and Oswaldo Negri, Jr.