VIR: Lexus race report

MICHAEL SHANK RACING DUO JAMES/FRISSELLE LEAD LEXUS AT VIR ALTON, Va. (April 29, 2007) -- Ian James and Burt Frisselle climbed into the top-three before eventually bringing their Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley home in sixth-place to lead the...

MICHAEL SHANK RACING DUO JAMES/FRISSELLE LEAD LEXUS AT VIR

ALTON, Va. (April 29, 2007) -- Ian James and Burt Frisselle climbed into the top-three before eventually bringing their Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley home in sixth-place to lead the Lexus contingent in Sunday's VIR 400 at the Virginia International Raceway.

Overall, the trek to southern Virginia was a roller-coaster ride for the six-car Lexus contingent. No less than three Lexus-powered cars made their way into the top five today, highlighted by a brief two-lap stint at the front with Memo Rojas on Laps 8 and 9 before he went off-track on Lap 10 after contact with the #58 car while leading.

Rojas' Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Pruett then climbed into the car and proceeded to register the fastest lap of the race by more than a half second, but couldn't overcome the huge deficit on the way to an eighth-place finish.

Rojas and Pruett weren't the only drivers to ride today's roller-coaster as each of the six Lexus entries ran in the top-10 at some point of the race. Unfortunately, numerous on-track incidents appeared to be the rule of the day with the six-car Lexus group generally on the receiving end.

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series continues at Laguna Seca on May 20 with SPEED providing live coverage beginning at 4 p.m. EDT.

NOTES:

- After registering a season-best seventh in qualifying on Saturday, the #6 MSR Lexus of Ian James and Burt Frisselle notched their top finish of the season with a sixth.

- With his eighth-place finish today, Scott Pruett earned his 41st top-10 finish in 44 career Daytona Prototype starts.

- The #19 car driven by Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante made their Lexus debut this weekend with Chip Ganassi Racing. After a career-best 10th in qualifying, the team climbed into contention for a top-10 finish dropping to 16th in a wild late-race shoot-out as seven cars battled for a top-five finish in the late going.

- AIM Autosport's 14th-place snapped the team's consecutive top-10 streak at three, but not before the team ran in the top-five for much of today's event before a fueling glitch and a pit-lane violation dropped the squad back in the pack.

- The Southard Motorsports duo of Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis captured their top finish of the season with a 12th today.

Quotes:

Burt Frisselle, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "I love racing with this team and it was just a pleasure to be back with them. I was really happy with my stint and turning the car over to Ian in third place felt good. It was great to have Ian as a teammate. I really enjoyed my battle out there with Mark Wilkins. It was interesting to be racing against the same car that I will be driving next round at Laguna. It was a busy weekend but also a really good one, to be competitive in such different types of cars in such different environments is really good for my confidence as a driver and just keeps fueling me on to do more."

Ian James, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "I think we extracted the maximum possible performance out of our package this weekend. Burt did a great job and the strategy was absolutely spot on and we had awesome pit stops. This is not our best track, so to get everything out of the car and the team is pretty satisfying. I've been under the weather a bit this week, but once I got in the car it was no problem."

Mark Wilkins, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "I was pretty happy with my drive. I really liked the car -- the handling was good. [Late in the stint] the car was really loose [understeering], so it was a matter of keeping the rear tires under me, being as consistent as possible and keeping the times up. You've really got to stay focused on what's in front of you and not let what's behind you bother you. I let it get to me a bit, but when I started to focus forward again, we started to pull away."

Brian Frisselle, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "Our strategy didn't work out as well as we'd hoped. We had some fueling problems and I just never got in sync with the car -- the car was quite a bit different than what I'd driven in practice. I'm disappointed with my performance, but we'll come back next time stronger than ever."

Oswaldo Negri, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "It was tough (in regard to being hit a number of times during the race). Nic (Jonsson) came up and apologized after the race but the car was just horrible after that because of the damage. There was nothing I could do but just hold on to get as many points as possible. It's very frustrating because the passes I made were clean, but I guess the way to do it is just to knock people out of the way, I don't know."

Michael Shank, team owner Michael Shank Racing: "I'm really happy with the team effort this weekend. We had the right strategy and some great pit stops from the guys. Our drivers did a good job and it was good to have Burt back with us this weekend. But, I am not happy with the calls made - or not made - by the officials today. It's really frustrating because Oz has been penalized for doing a whole lot less than was done to us today and the thing is that it just kept happening all afternoon."

-credit: lexus

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Scott Pruett , Michael Valiante , Randy Ruhlman , Ian James , Memo Rojas , Burt Frisselle , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Mark Wilkins , Brian Frisselle , Rob Finlay , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Michael Shank Racing