Michael Shank Racing hangs tough at Infineon (Sonoma, CA) 27 August 06--Halfway through the Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway, Michael Shank Racing was well-placed to keep a run of team double-top ten team finishes going, but the racing gods had ...
Michael Shank Racing hangs tough at Infineon
(Sonoma, CA) 27 August 06--Halfway through the Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway, Michael Shank Racing was well-placed to keep a run of team double-top ten team finishes going, but the racing gods had another plan as the team had to fight back and overcome some bad racing luck.
The Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach entry of Brian Frisselle and Mike Borkowski finished eleventh as the Flight Options Lexus/Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri came home thirteenth in the two-hour and forty-five minute Infineon Raceway debut for the Rolex Sports Car Series.
Patterson started the race from twentieth on the grid, and hadn't a moment to relax as he staged a thrilling three-way battle in the opening twenty-five laps of the 100-lap event. The highlight reel for Patterson's stint would no doubt include his bold outside move in the final corner, as he nearly lost a position under braking, but refused to cede the spot and re-passed on the outside of the hairpin corner to reclaim the position.
The South African, who led the Jim Trueman Award points leading into the event, had a busy day in the office on Saturday afternoon.
"This is a great flowing race track but there just isn't anywhere to even take a moment in the car and get ready for the next section-it's just non-stop," said Patterson. "And when you are right in someone's tailpipes with someone else in yours for twenty-five laps, there is even less of a chance to relax or even take a drink of water. This series is very intense, but this was the absolutely most intense race I've ever had in this car. But I had a ball out there-the guys were going for it absolutely 100%, but there wasn't a single bit of contact between the three of us the entire time, so just some fantastic racing."
The Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach Lexus/Riley of Mike Borkowski and Brian Frisselle got a good launch at the start as Frisselle emerged from the first lap in twelfth after starting from sixteenth on the grid. Frisselle kept up the pace, and continued to move the Playboy Racing machine up the order before turning the car over to Borkowski, who rejoined the field in seventh position.
However, it was more than just the other cars and the busy track that Borkoski had to battle with, as the Miami resident had to switch off a number of systems to cope with a dying battery.
"This is one of the most physical tracks we race on," said Borkowski. "So to be running with the power steering, helmet blower, and cool suit all turned off made for a really tough stint. There isn't any place to rest on this track, and when it's 140 degrees inside the car, it just made for a tough run out there."
Borkowski turned the controls back over to Frisselle at the two-thirds distance as the Michael Shank Racing crew made a fast stop to address the electronic issues and sent Frisselle on his way to fight back in the top ten, although the youngster just ran out of laps and came home eleventh.
Meanwhile, Negri was in form and on pace, moving the Flight Options car up to as high as sixth. However, contact with a GT class entry hampered progress as the Brazilian was called in for a stop-and-go penalty, which put Negri one lap down from the leaders.
"It's too bad what happened with the GT car-I thought he saw that I was inside but we were both already committed to the corner, so we made contact as I tried to pass him," said Negri. "He is a great racer (Tommy Kendall) and I really like the guy, but it was just some bad racing luck for us today. I'm really looking forward to the race at Miller next weekend-obviously we've shown a lot of strength in the endurance races (2nd/Rolex 24 At Daytona, 4th/Watkins Glen 6 Hour) this season, and it would be great to finish the year out like we started--with a podium."
After netting four consecutive top-ten finishes with both team entries heading into the Infineon round, the Sonoma 250 proved to have a disappointing conclusion, but team owner Mike Shank is looking forward to the season-ending Labor Day race weekend and the challenge that the endurance races bring to the team.
"It was just not our day today," said team owner Mike Shank. "But at least we only have to wait a few days to get back out there and keep going for it next weekend at Miller. We've had some good runs this season in the endurance races and we'd like to close out the season on a strong note in the nine-hour."
The team will stay out West and begin preparations for the season-ending Sunchaser 250 at Miller Motorsports Park next Saturday. The race will be broadcast live on Speed Channel September 2nd at 2:00 PM (ET) for part one, and follow to the finish in part two starting at 6:00 PM (ET).
-credit: michael shank racing