Michael Shank Racing Montreal 200 Race Report MONTREAL, QUE- (28 August 2010)- Michael Shank Racing returns from north of the border with a double top ten finish after the No. 6 Ford-Dallara of Brian Frisselle and Michael Valiante finished the...
Michael Shank Racing Montreal 200 Race Report
MONTREAL, QUE- (28 August 2010)- Michael Shank Racing returns from north of the border with a double top ten finish after the No. 6 Ford-Dallara of Brian Frisselle and Michael Valiante finished the Montreal 200 in sixth place as the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley of John Pew and Ozz Negri finished the event in eighth. Just one race remains in the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal championship season.
Both team entries saw their race day classification compromised when series officials did not close the pit lane exit during the race's first full course caution, allowing other entries to return to the fray out of earned order.
This eliminated the return on Michael Shank Racing's investment in a bold pit strategy that would have seen the No. 6 machine line up close to the lead for the restart.
However, series officials refused to make adjustments to adjudicate the altered interpretation of the rulebook, and both team machines were placed deep in the pack for the restart. The oversight was not corrected during the yellow flag nor during the subsequent yellow flag and significantly compromised the team's outing.
"I'm very frustrated with the way the pit exit rules were handled because it completely threw off our race today," said team owner Mike Shank. "We'll look forward to finding out more from the officials after the race because we still don't have a good answer as to why that happened, and why nothing was done to correct it even under the yellow flag. We struggled this weekend and ultimately didn't have the pace we needed, but we had called a strategy that would have made a big difference. Unfortunately it didn't pay off the way it should have. Everyone on this team worked their tails off this weekend once again, but today just wasn't our day. We're looking forward to Miller."
That effort was further set back when a flat tire sent Valiante to the pits for an unscheduled pit stop after a long slow lap around the 2.7-mile Formula 1-grade facility. This setback cost a lap, but the team once again put a new strategy to work, allowing the No.6 machine to gain the lap back before Valiante handed over the controls to Frisselle.
"I don't know if it was debris or something else that caused the problem, I know they will look at the tire after the race but either way, it happened at the worst possible place and it took forever to get back to the pits. I had to be careful and go slowly because you do not want the tire to start coming apart and breaking up the bodywork," said Valiante. "The team improved the car for the race, but we just didn't have the pace we needed this weekend to be stronger over the long run."
After the driver swap just past the hour mark, Frisselle was on the pace early in his stint but after a restart following one of the races four yellow flags, the lap times were not enough to make a bigger push to the front.
"The car was better than it had been all weekend, but we still just didn't have the pace we needed," said Frisselle, who had been hoping to extend his streak of Montreal race wins. "Hats off to the team, the guys worked really hard and fought back from the mistake that I made yesterday. That track time that we lost, cost us in terms of having more opportunity to keep working on our set-up. I didn't want to be too aggressive with the 90 car-we were close, but I didn't want to push the issue and ruin both our races. But it was a solid finish despite everything that happened this weekend, and hopefully we can finish the season off well at Miller."
The No. 60 machine was targeting a championship points day, and while the race didn't bring a return to the Rolex podium for the duo, it still saw them move to fourth in the provisional driver points as well as fourth in the team championship standings.
"I was trying to be conservative with the brakes, lifting and coasting just a bit before going to the brakes to try to save them for Ozz and also to help a little with our mileage as well," said Pew about his opening stint. "The rears came in, but they just didn't feel like they had that much grip. So I had to be really careful in the high speed corners because the walls here can just reach out and grab you. We'll get them next time."
"I'm proud of the guys, we struggled this weekend but no one ever let off their effort at all and just kept trying to make it work," said Negri. "We had a good strategy once again. The result though was not what we wanted but it wasn't for a lack of hard work. We got the most with what we had today. I had to think as well about the big picture and the points. I made a move on the restart, but from there we just didn't have anything for them. Now I'm looking forward to going out to Miller and hopefully getting back on that podium!"
Michael Shank Racing has two race victories (2006, 2008) at Miller Motorsports Park and will look to grow that tally in two weeks time to close out the 2010 season.