Virgina Int'l Raceway 250
New Rules and Bounty Hunting at VIR as Michael Shank Racing kicks off busy month
It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve been racing, so I’m really eager to get to VIR and get going this weekend.
Danville, VA (10 May 2011)-- Saturday’s Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway will mark round four of the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship and follows a five-week break between races. The race, staged on the challenging 3.27-mile natural terrain road course in rural Virginia, will kick off an intensified run of GRAND-AM events and Michael Shank Racing will look to make the most of each of them to make up ground in the championship standings.
Entering the weekend sixth in the GRAND-AM Team Championship rankings with the the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley, Ozz Negri and John Pew will look to build on a season-best finish at Barber Motorsports Park. The Barber event saw them do battle not only with the rest of the field, but also with a sticking throttle. Despite the challenge and some anxious moments, the duo brought the Crown Royal XR machine home sixth.
John Pew scored a runner-up finish for the team at VIR in 2009, and would like nothing more than to go one better this weekend, particularly with the $25,000 award that GRAND-AM has set aside for any team winning over the No. 01 squad.
Last year’s VIR event attracted the largest crowd to date at the remote track, which will be the scene for the debut of some significant rules changes from GRAND-AM, including a drastic reduction in fuel capacity that should see the pits a busy place all race long.
“It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve been racing, so I’m really eager to get to VIR and get going this weekend,” said Pew. “This stretch of races--VIR, Lime Rock, and the Glen--are going to be really important for the championship so it’s crucial for us to have some strong finishes and generate as many points as we can. It will be interesting to see how the weekend plays out with the new fuel rules and how everyone develops their strategies around them. I’m excited about getting back to VIR--it’s a place where these Daytona Prototypes can really stretch their legs, and the track is a huge but fun challenge, every lap.”
While it has been several weeks since the team was last in action together, it has only been a handful of days since Pew and Negri last went training together. Most recently, the south Florida-based duo were in action at Homestead Miami Speedway’s karting facility with some high-speed shifter kart training to keep sharp between rounds.
“John has been working very hard outside of the car, and he has shown through the years that he’s quite good on this track, so we are all looking forward to this weekend,” said Negri, who will look to improve on his career-best finish of sixth at the track. “I’ve been talking every day with the engineers and I think we’ve got a good strategy planned for the weekend. We have to be smart to make the most of the new rules, and I think that it’s going to be fun for the fans to watch as well. Even though we had some challenges at Barber, we still fought to take a solid result and now we are ready to keep pushing and moving up, hopefully starting with a good finish this weekend.”
“The Barber weekend was a tough one for us, but even with the issues that we had, it was still our best finish of the year so far with the Crown Royal car so we just want to take the positive from Barber and build on that this weekend,” said team owner Mike Shank. “Our engineers have been the last ones to turn off the lights and leave the shop, some late nights just working through a whole range of strategies for these new rules. It’s good to see the series working to make the show even better for the fans, and of course, I’d be lying if we all didn’t have our eyes on that 25 grand!”