(Columbus, OH) 17 September 08 - Michael Shank Racing, which won the debut Rolex Sports Car Series endurance event at Miller Motorsports Park in 2006, will look to return to victory circle in the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 this weekend for the final...
(Columbus, OH) 17 September 08 - Michael Shank Racing, which won the debut Rolex Sports Car Series endurance event at Miller Motorsports Park in 2006, will look to return to victory circle in the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 this weekend for the final round of the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series championship.
The team is coming off a strong performance in the most recent round of Rolex Sports Car Series racing as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri took their second Rolex win together in the Supercar Life 250, while the sister No. 6 Ford-powered machine of Ian James and John Pew powered to a seventh place finish after making a storming recovery following early-race contact from behind.
The seven-hour Miller Motorsports Park race distance will see the driver line-ups for both team entries grow, as Patterson and Negri will be joined by Ryan Dalziel in the No. 60 entry, with Pew and James sharing the controls with recently crowned Firestone Indy Lights Champion Raffa Matos in the No. 6.
Beyond the hunger to return to victory lane, there are several other elements that have the team deeply motivated for a strong finish to the 2008 season.
Entering the SunRichGourmet.com event weekend, the first and second positions in the Rolex team championship are locked up, but third place is very much in play, with the close point standings a reflection of the Rolex Series' tight racing. Four teams- the No. 60 of Patterson and Negri, two entries from Brumos and a fellow Ford-Riley from AIM Autosport, are all within range to take that third position as every team is looking to close the year out as close to the top as possible. Just six points currently separate third from fifth.
"This championship is very important to us and we're right in the thick of a very close battle so we're really looking forward to a strong weekend with both of our cars," said team owner Mike Shank. "Winning at New Jersey was a result of some great teamwork on both sides of pit wall, and we're glad to have a couple more guys-Raffa and Ryan-as part of the team this weekend. We've always been strong in the longer races and hopefully we can keep that tradition up again on Saturday. This series is so competitive that we're going to have to fight for everything, but we're looking forward to it."
Not to be overlooked is the No. 6 of Pew and James, who will look to not only grow the one-point advantage they currently carry over the defending Miller race-winning No. 91, but will target making inroads on the eighth place No. 76 machine, some fifteen points up. Pew and James were seventh in the 2007 season-ender at Miller, and are hoping to put the Ford power in play to return to the Rolex podium once again.
"We really want to finish this year off strong and I think we are in a good position to do that this weekend," said Pew, who scored ninth in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and sixth in the 6 Hours of the Glen in June. "Having Raffa on board with Ian and I is a great addition for the weekend. He's a great guy and obviously very fast so I expect it to have a good time in and out of the cockpit this weekend. Having done this race last season and already experienced the circuit in a Daytona Prototype is a huge advantage for me looking ahead to the weekend. It can be a challenge running at these altitudes, but I'm really looking forward to getting back there with Ford power and also to see what the track is like on the Pirellis, as they have had more grip everywhere we've gone this year."
While the championship battle is a high-priority program for the team, there is another title to be decided on Saturday, as Mark Patterson and JC France are locked in a battle for the Trueman Award, with just 59 points separating the two. Patterson, who secured the 2006 Trueman Award with the Miller victory, is looking to regain the crown in the standings, which combine miles competed and finishing position for the scoring.