Mid-Ohio: Michael Shank Racing race report

Michael Shank Racing has tough time at Mid-Ohio (Lexington, OH) 27 August 05-- Michael Shank Racing's home event had been going exactly has had been hoped-both cars were fast in every session leading up to the race and a large crowd of team ...

Michael Shank Racing has tough time at Mid-Ohio

(Lexington, OH) 27 August 05-- Michael Shank Racing's home event had been going exactly has had been hoped-both cars were fast in every session leading up to the race and a large crowd of team supporters had assembled to cheer on the growing team as they made a strong two-car assault on their home track.

But, once the green flag flew on the Emco Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the team's fortune took a turn for the worse, as two separate incidents kept the team from running up front as it had all weekend.

Mark Patterson started the race in the Flight Options Lexus-Riley, and had been keeping good form in the early stages of the race despite some questionable moves from some competitors as he battled for position. While in the thick of battle, Patterson caught a bad break as the Lexus-Riley had a bobble as he powered out of a corner and two wheels made contact with the slippery curb, sending him into a slow spin off the course.

The rain that had fallen most of the day played culprit, as the wet grass sent him further astray and into the gravel pit, forcing him to be towed out to return to competition.

Shortly thereafter in the sister Michael Shank Racing machine of Paul Mears Jr. encountered the spinning car of Milka Duno as he crested one of Mid-Ohio's hilly corners.

Mears has a lot of experience in high-pressure situations, whether he is flying a plane, running a business, or racing a Daytona Prototype, so he was able to react in the blink of an eye, avoiding contact with the cars around him and getting the Pontiac-Riley slowed enough to only make light contact with Duno.

What should have been a frustrating experience that would have just cost some track position turned into something much worse, though, as before he could get going again, Mears's car was soon clouted by a GT driver who had paid no heed to the mass of waving yellow flags which the cars ahead of her had seen, and she crashed into the back of Mears's car at full speed, spinning him around and sending him into the path of another GT Porsche which made contact with the front of the car, causing significant damage.

Fortunately, Mears was able to emerge from the car without any injuries, but the damage was done and the car was forced out of the event.

Patterson meanwhile kept the fight up despite having lost two laps to the leader waiting for his tow out of the gravel, and turned the car over to Negri midway through the race. Negri, who set a track record at Laguna Seca in April despite not having been in a Daytona Prototype for several months, was again in peak form as he stormed from forty-fourth position up to finish seventeenth in class as he continually set some of the fastest laps of the race.

Team owner Mike Shank was naturally disappointed at how the race unfolded for his team, but the highly-driven team owner knows his team will be back and ready to fight again.

"This is one of the toughest days we have had as a team," said Shank. "The good thing is that Paul is fine. We will get the car fixed and ready for Phoenix. We showed every day here how good we are. There is nothing you can do about bad luck, so at least we have the speed we need and this team will just go back to the shop and start getting ready for the next one."

Having Negri back at work again with the team was something that a lot of Rolex fans had been looking forward to seeing, and the Brazilian hotshoe showed again why he was selected as the "Rising Star" of 2004.

"Oz was unbelievable--it was just an awesome display of talent for him to be putting in those laps like he did," said Shank.

The Mears Motor Coach machine will be back in racing form for the September 10th Phoenix 250, which will be the first time in Grand American history that the Daytona Prototypes will be a stand-alone event.

Saturday's race will be shown on Speed Channel Noon EST on Sunday, August 28.

-michael shank racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Milka Duno , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing