Utah: Michael Shank Racing race report

Michael Shank Racing wins Discount Tire Sunchaser 9-Hour Win powers Lexus to Manufacturer Championship title as Patterson secures Jim Trueman Award (Tooele, UT) 2 September 06--Michael Shank Racing won the Discount Tire Sunchaser at Miller ...

Michael Shank Racing wins Discount Tire Sunchaser 9-Hour
Win powers Lexus to Manufacturer Championship title as Patterson secures Jim Trueman Award

(Tooele, UT) 2 September 06--Michael Shank Racing won the Discount Tire Sunchaser at Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday as Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson took the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus/Riley to a 2.94-second victory to close out the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series season.

The win is the first in Rolex Sports Car Series competition for the Columbus, Ohio-based team and secured the Manufacturer Championship for Michael Shank Racing engine partner Lexus.

The sister Michael Shank Racing entry of Mike Borkowski, Burt, and Brian Frisselle capped off a strong team performance as the Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach Lexus/Riley finished in fifth position, less than one minute behind the Negri/Patterson machine after nine hours of battle in the Utah desert.

The win provided a podium-bookend on the season for the Flight Options entry, which opened 2006 with a second-place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"Many thanks to Lexus, Flight Options and to Mike Shank, he runs an absolutely fabulous team," said Patterson. "It's amazing to be on the podium and in this press conference surrounded by so much driving talent. The realization that we won this race hasn't even begun to sink in. Oz did an amazing job today and all season, and all credit goes to him and Mike Shank. We started the season off on the podium, and its great to go one better to finish the season."

Negri was at the controls as the 4.5-mile track was enveloped in darkness after the sun set, but the desire to win overcame any problem presented by the limited visibility as he clicked off fast lap after fast lap to charge to the checkers.

"We wanted to get Mike (Shank) his first win, to help Lexus win the championship, and to make sure Mark won the Trueman Award, and we did all three tonight so it's absolutely fantastic," said Negri. "Mark did a great job to keep us in contention up front during his stints, and we had a great last pit stop. Mike Shank has put together an unbelievable team and the support we get from Lexus is fantastic. I just want to thank my wife and kids and everyone who has had to put up with all the sacrifices we have to make to do this, but winning a race like this makes everything worth it. I'm just so happy I can't believe it."

The nine-hour event set a frantic pace, as the race was slowed by but one caution period near the middle point of the event.

Two key pit stops helped to parlay the pace of Patterson and Negri into a victory. The first came three hours into the race, as team owner Mike Shank played a hands-on role and repaired a broken cool suit in the Flight Options car during a pit stop. The repair cost just ten extra seconds in the pits, but allowed both Patterson and Negri to make the most of the impressive fuel mileage provided by the Lexus motor by keeping them cool enough in the car to stretch out their stints to the maximum mileage between pit stops.

The second key pit stop came late in the race, as Negri came in for a perfectly-timed stop to take on just enough fuel to make it to the finish, as the Michael Shank Racing crew got the speedy Brazilian back on course and into the lead, which he refused to relinquish despite immense pressure from behind.

Shank has made the most of his switch to the Rolex Series after a successful start campaigning cars in the formula car ranks, taking a fourth place in the teams first-ever start in the Rolex category in 2004 and following that up with a podium performance in the very next race. The team has grown into a thriving two-car entry and despite the ever-increasing competitive nature of Rolex racing, has been a threat every weekend, but the Utah event was the first time everything came together for the team.

"This is absolutely the best possible way for us to finish the season," said Shank. "Oz did a phenomenal job in that last stint, and we had some great pit stops to help him get up front. The Playboy car also had a great run and I just can't say how proud I am of all my guys, and how fortunate I feel to be racing in this series. It's so competitive and you have to have everything possible go right for you to even hope for a podium, and obviously to get a win, every aspect of what you do has to be flawless, and that's what we did tonight."

The win also helped protect Patterson's lead in the Jim Trueman award, a recognition of the drivers who do not derive their income from driving race cars, as Patterson wrapped up the title with his strong performance in Utah.

"We're very cognizant of the fact that we are a team with one pro driver and one amateur driver, racing against all these teams with all-pro drivers, and we love the challenge," said Patterson. "Especially when we come out on top like we did tonight!"

About Michael Shank Racing Based in Columbus, Ohio, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic Championship. With several race wins under his belt, Shank was named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR joined the Rolex ranks in 2004. MSR has five Rolex Sports Car Series podium finishes.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mike Borkowski , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing