Mid-Ohio: Michael Shank Racing preview

Westfield Insurance Returns With Michael Shank Racing at Mid-Ohio Hometown sponsor for home town track (Columbus, OH) 16 June 2009- Michael Shank Racing will look for success on home soil this Saturday night as Westfield Insurance re-joins the...

Westfield Insurance Returns With Michael Shank Racing at Mid-Ohio Hometown sponsor for home town track

(Columbus, OH) 16 June 2009- Michael Shank Racing will look for success on home soil this Saturday night as Westfield Insurance re-joins the team as title sponsor on the No. 60 Westfield Insurance Ford-Riley, which will be co-driven by Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri in the EMCO Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for round six, halfway through the 2009 Rolex Sports Car Series season.

The sister Daytona Prototype No. 6 Ford-Riley of John Pew and Michael Valiante are ready to improve on their season-best finish to date of second at Virginia International Raceway as the team has two strong entries prepared for success this weekend. Both MSR teams have now moved up into the top 10 in championship points and anticipate improving further in this year's tight points spread.

The track, which was where Michael Shank Racing first came together in support of Mike Shank's championship-earning racing efforts as a driver, has seen the team score countless wins and podiums through the seasons. But there is still one open spot on the team's trophy case at the shop in nearby Pataskula that is still waiting some special hardware from the track, as the team has yet to break through for a podium on the 2.258-mile circuit in Lexington, Ohio in Rolex Sports Car Series competition.

"This is a big race weekend for us, with all our family on hand and all the people from Westfield Insurance coming out to the track, so we are really looking forward to it," said team owner Shank, who moved out of the cockpit to concentrate on steering his race team over a decade ago. "As much as we love being back at Mid-Ohio, this place has just been a tough nut for us to crack in terms of having some good racing luck here, so that's a huge focus for us on Saturday. We know our cars are fast, and we know this track, but we just have to put it all together to get the results we want on our home turf."

Last year's Mid-Ohio race saw the field not only have to contest with the track's famed "Keyhole," "Madness," and "Carousel" corners, but also the deluge of a heavy summer rainstorm. While the team emerged to match their best Rolex Sports Car Series result to date on the track as the Westfield Insurance entry of Patterson and Negri fought to take 6th in the difficult conditions, the goal is to go even better this weekend.

"We've had tremendously fast and great-handling cars everywhere we've gone this year, so that really makes you anxious to get to the track as a driver, just like when you were younger and couldn't wait for the holidays to come!" said Pew, who ran an impressive stint at the front of the pack during the last round of Rolex competition at Watkins Glen. "So I'm just looking forward to getting going again this weekend at Mid-Ohio. This track has something for everyone- the long, fast back straight, off-camber blind corners, and some elevation changes as well. And with cars that handle as well as Mike Shanks do, it should be a lot of fun and we should hopefully be really competitive once again."

"For all the time that Michael Shank Racing has spent at Mid-Ohio, this is a track that just hasn't been kind to us through the years for some reason, but we're fully intending to change that this weekend with the Westfield Insurance car," said Patterson. "We had a tremendous time meeting Roger (McManus, COO/Westfield Insurance) last year, and it will be great to see some familiar faces from Westfield again this weekend. It looks as though the weather could be a factor again this weekend, so we will just try to be prepared as possible, no matter what the conditions throw at us."

The race weekend will kick off with practice and qualifying on Friday, with the 2.75-hour race slated for a run into the sunset with a 5:00 PM starting time.

Team points championship update:
The Watkins Glen 6 hour saw the teams 4th (No. 6) and 5th (No. 60) place finishes pay off in the team championship battle with the No. 60 moving from 10th to 9th with 110 points, as the No. 6 is 6th in points with 119 points. The championship leaders are tied with 140 points.

Trueman Award Update:
The Trueman battle has a new but familiar name at the top as JC France now leads with 1350 points, but Patterson slimed the margin by some 60 points with his Watkins Glen outing and will look to grow on his 1215 points again this Saturday at Mid-Ohio as Pew lies just behind with 913 markers.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers JC France , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing