Michael Shank Racing Westfield Insurance Riley Scores Sixth at Mid-Ohio; Best team finish at home track in Daytona Prototype competition (Lexington, OH) 21 June 08 -Michael Shank Racing capped off a strong home track race weekend on Saturday as...
Michael Shank Racing Westfield Insurance Riley Scores Sixth at Mid-Ohio; Best team finish at home track in Daytona Prototype competition
(Lexington, OH) 21 June 08 -Michael Shank Racing capped off a strong home track race weekend on Saturday as the Westfield Insurance Ford-Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri improved the teams best-ever race result at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a run to sixth place in a dramatic round seven of Rolex Sports Car Series competition.
The race went green as a significant rainstorm took over with heavy winds and the precipitation continued through most of the two hour and forty-five minute race. Patterson opened up the race during some of the most challenging conditions and moved up in the order before turning the car over to Negri, who returned to the field 19th .
Negri, who cut his teeth in the formula car world competing in Europe, was relishing the chance to make the most of the conditions as he sliced his way up to third. However, the forward progress came at a cost, as the Pirelli tires had given all they had and Negri soon found himself thinking championship as he fought to keep the Westfield Insurance machine close to the front without sacrificing a good points finish.
"That was one of the most difficult races I have ever run," said Negri. "The conditions so were tough that it was everything you could do every lap just to make sure you didn't go off. I've raced in the rain a lot, and I really love it, but this was really a huge challenge. At the end, the 58 and 59 were mega, and I didn't want to have any contact trying to defend against them and just kept pushing to get what I could get out of the car. It is a shame we weren't able to do a little bit better for all the Westfield Insurance guests, but I'm happy to come out of this race with another solid finish and a car without any damage."
The sister Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley didn't fare as hoped, as early in the race, a spinning competitor forced Pew off the racing line and into the path of track debris, cutting a tire down and sending him into a spin. Before he was able to recover, another competitor spun into his path, hitting him and sending the 6 car behind the wall for repairs. The team put in a stout and speedy effort to return the car back to competition just as the green flag flew again, but the team had to fight from laps down before taking the finish with Ian James behind the wheel.
"It was a tough day, with both cars getting a beat up early on," said team owner Mike Shank. "The conditions were challenging, but we had a the right strategy and the guys did a fantastic job all weekend. We love coming up and racing here at Mid-Ohio, but we were hoping to bring the Westfield Insurance guests a little bit more today. But this was ok in terms of the championship, and we'll just look forward to Daytona. Obviously we had a great car there in January, and hopefully we can go even better there in July."