Michael Shank Racing announces second Daytona Prototype entry for Laguna Seca Columbus, OH (6 April 05)--Fresh off the team's first podium finish of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car season, team owner Mike Shank is pleased to announce today that his...
Michael Shank Racing announces second Daytona Prototype entry for Laguna Seca
Columbus, OH (6 April 05)--Fresh off the team's first podium finish of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car season, team owner Mike Shank is pleased to announce today that his team will be campaigning a second Daytona Prototype entry at the next round of the championship in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the weekend of April 29-May 1.
The addition means that there will be a familiar face in the Michael Shank Racing pits, as Oswaldo Negri will return to the team, joining Pro Mazda Series racer Mark Patterson in the cockpit of a Lexus-Riley for the event. The two will run in tandem with the team's full season drivers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. in the Mears Motor Coach Pontiac-Riley.
The race marks the first time that the team will feature two entries in the Rolex ranks, although the team has extensive experience running multiple cars from its time in Toyota Atlantics.
"We are really excited about the Laguna weekend," said award-winning team owner Mike Shank. "We are naturally pretty happy about our finish at Fontana this weekend, and now having Oswaldo back with us for the next race has everybody in a good mood, and we are looking forward to working with Mark as well. I have to thank George Robinson for leasing us the car for the race, because it's allowing us to explore this opportunity with Mark and Oz without having to make the investment in a new car."
Ever since taking his race-winning organization from the formula car ranks into the endurance racing format of the Rolex Sports Car Series, Shank has been a stout supporter of the Grand American category, and feels as though this new challenge for the team demonstrates some of the opportunity that exists in the paddock.
"Coming from Atlantics, we had to change our organization to adapt to endurance racing," said Shank. "And we feel as though we are now well-placed for growth in the future and we have shown that we can perform in this category even when our budget isn't quite that of some of the guys we are fighting with-but the whole team is loving the challenge."
2004's racesite.com "Rising Star" Oswaldo Negri made the most of his opportunity with Michael Shank Racing last season, teaming with Burt Frisselle to take two podiums and finish the season sixth in the points championship, and the affable Brazilian is eagerly anticipating getting back to racing in the Rolex Sports Car Series.
"After watching the races on television, I'm just really excited about the opportunity to get back to racing at Laguna Seca with Mike and his guys," beamed Negri. "Wayne Taylor was kind enough to let me test the Suntrust car before the 24, so I know the Riley is strong and I am also looking forward to be working with the TRD guys at Lexus again because they just have incredible trackside support."
A development driver with extensive experience making race cars of all types go fast, Negri has a lot of laps at Laguna, and is glad to be joining the series for their first start at the track.
"I have raced Indy Lights cars, ALMS cars, and done a ton of laps in Skip Barber and Formula BMW cars there, so I am comfortable with the track and hopefully that will help us get up to speed quickly," said Negri. "We want to do well, but I have a realistic outlook for the race--the field is even more competitive now than the last time I raced in the series just a few months ago. I have also been working out hard as ever, and trying to keep sharp with as much karting as I can get in."
Dave Kanning, who works with Dale Wise to engineer the 6 car effort and devise fuel strategies for the team, will serve as lead engineer for the effort. Kanning, who has experience with cars ranging from Toyota Atlantics to Formula Renault (Kanning worked one summer in Europe with a young Christian Klien), is glad to be working with Negri again as well.
"Oz is a great guy, and his feedback is some of the best in the sport," said Kanning. "It also helps that he can peddle the car like almost no one else, so hopefully we can get a good set-up working for him and Mark at Laguna."
Negri's teammate, Mark Patterson, has two Daytona 24 starts to his credit, including his first Daytona Prototype start in this years event, and has extensive experience in the sport, having raced everything from Formula BMW's in China, to his current season campaign in the Star Mazda Pro Series.
"Oswaldo has been helping out our team as a driver coach in the Pro Mazda Series, and we got to talking about Rolex, and Oz told me-'I know the best in the business with Mike Shank,' and we were able to put something together for this Laguna weekend, so I'm really looking forward to the experience. Obviously Oz has shown his speed in these cars, and hopefully we can get ourselves in the top ten or better even though we are just joining what is clearly a very competitive series."
Patterson and Negri will get a couple of test days in before the race to establish some communication with the team and get comfortable with the car.
The U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be shown live May 1st on Speed Channel at 3:00 PM EST.
Michael Shank Racing finished in third place in the Ferrari Maserati 400k at California Speedway with drivers Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski after making a strong charge to the front in the second half of the race. The result is the third podium appearance for the Michael Shank Racing squad in Rolex competition since joining the category at the beginning of 2004.
Michael Shank Racing was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr.