Michael Shank Racing fast in the flats (Salt Lake City, UT) 31 August 06--Well it's not exactly the Bonneville Salt Flats, but the 4.5-mile Miller Motorsports Park outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, has plenty of room for the Rolex Sports...
Michael Shank Racing fast in the flats
(Salt Lake City, UT) 31 August 06--Well it's not exactly the Bonneville Salt Flats, but the 4.5-mile Miller Motorsports Park outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, has plenty of room for the Rolex Sports Car Series field to stretch their legs.
Michael Shank Racing got the season-ending Discount Tire Sunchaser 9-hour race weekend off to a quick start as Oswaldo Negri posted the third fastest time of the day in the Flight Options Lexus/Riley that he will be sharing with Mark Patterson on Saturday. The team tested at the track earlier this summer, and arrived armed with a strong set-up for the Series' debut at the impressive facility.
"The car was great right off the truck and having tested here really prepared us for that," said Negri. "We've only been making little changes to the car so far, and Mark did a great job today even when he was running on old tires, so we are pretty optimistic about the race. The last few laps we ran tonight, though, I think it is too dangerous out there in the dark on this track. If someone drops a wheel and blows up a dust cloud, it's just impossible to see through it, very dangerous."
The sister Michael Shank Racing entry of Mike Borkowski, Burt, and Brian Frisselle was also a quick starter, as the Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach machine posted the tenth fastest time in the final night session, which closed out after the sun set behind the surrounding mountains, blanketing the track in darkness.
The Rolex Sports Car Series races frequently in night conditions, but usually on an oval-based track configuration that provides plenty of stadium lighting. The Miller layout, which is devoid of elevation changes and distinctive sight pictures for the drivers, proved to provide a worrying challenge for the field as it got a taste of running at night on the track on Thursday evening as a precursor to running the closing laps of the race, scheduled to end at 9:00 PM local time on Saturday.
While the team's strong performance had team owner Mike Shank feeling positive about the race weekend, his first concern following the evening session was the situation with the lighting.
"All of the drivers are concerned about running out there in the dark," said Shank. "If a car spins and kicks up dust and stalls out, killing their lights, there is just no way for the guy behind to see them. It's dangerous but hopefully they will sort something out for the race."
The grid will be set for the finale-enduro at 2:00 PM local time on Friday. 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).