Double Top-ten for Michael Shank Racing at Watkins Glen Patterson takes Trueman medal after mixed-condition night at the Glen (Watkins Glen, NY) 8 August 08 - Michael Shank Racing added to the team's tally of double top-ten Rolex Sports Car...
Double Top-ten for Michael Shank Racing at Watkins Glen
Patterson takes Trueman medal after mixed-condition night at the Glen
(Watkins Glen, NY) 8 August 08 - Michael Shank Racing added to the team's tally of double top-ten Rolex Sports Car Series finishes on Friday evening as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri finished the Crown Royal 200 eighth in the No. 60 Hospital For Special Surgery Ford-Riley, with the sister No. 6 of John Pew and Ian James taking the checkered flag close behind in ninth.
The two-hour sprint event started on a track still wet from an earlier rain shower, which then dried early in the race only to then see return of wet and challenging conditions with another series of rain showers before finally becoming fully dry in the second half of the race.
Starting the race on dry tires, Pew and Patterson got off to a quick start, and held on tight as the rains came in midway through their stints. With a keen eye on overall race strategy, the team kept the duo out as long as possible before making a tire and driver change within the Grand-Am mandated time window.
That strategy played nearly perfectly, save for a quick spin by Patterson, who was agonizingly close to the pit in at the time.
The conditions improved, and accordingly so too did the times for Negri and James after they took the controls to close out the two-hour Daytona Prototype-only event. The field experienced countless different strategies, as the rain came and went, playing havoc with any tire theory nearly as soon as it was developed.
But the strong pace that both Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley entries showed in practice and qualifying wasn't to be denied, as the team rallied to come home with both cars in the top ten. The Crown Royal 200 podium celebrations also marked the return of the Trueman Award medal ceremony as Patterson once again participated in a Watkins Glen podium celebration.
Despite the honor, Patterson was still frustrated by his own spin and a subsequent penalty for speeding in pit lane.
"I am just disappointed for the team to have that happen on my favorite track with a car that was just so fantastic to drive," said Patterson. "The conditions kept changing and I was on the radio with the team, talking about when to come in and we'd just decided to come in on the next lap, but the car just got away from me for a split second and that was that. But it's good to at least come away with this Trueman Award and that's some consolation. I feel for the team because our cars were fantastic this weekend and how Ozz got us back to 8th after taking over back where we were, I have no idea…"
"The car was great," said Negri and offering his answer on how he was able to make up the lost ground. "The voltage was coming down and I could tell that the motor was missing just a little bit at the high rpm's but we were still very fast at the end. I felt like we had a car to win today, but racing sometimes unfolds in ways you don't expect and that was just what happened today. After what happened in Montreal, my focus is just to get Mark the best position possible in the championship and support him 100% with that. We never give up, and we fought all the way to the finish today. So long as the cars are as fast as they were today, we know that the big results will come."
The rainy outing was much more satisfying for Pew than the Mid-Ohio event in June, as he relished running on the high-speed Glen short course layout despite the highly challenging, and constantly variable, track conditions.
"That was a great challenge for the drivers because for a while, the track was different every lap and you had to just fight to find whatever grip you could out there," said Pew, who continues to build his own momentum in the Trueman Award championship standings. "But I love this track and the car was great. The team did a great job to have a car that was fast in the dry, but still very driveable in the wet, so I'm really happy with my stint. Congrats to Mark on getting the Trueman medal tonight, but hopefully I can get him back at Infineon."
"There wasn't too much we could do at the end with the way the field was sorted out," said James. "So even though the car was very quick, we just didn't get to make up any more ground at the end so I just brought it home in good condition and stayed out of trouble."
The Rolex Team Championship standings, which currently provisionally have the Michael Shank Racing entries 5th (No. 60) and 8th (No. 6), are sporting razor-thin margins and continuing to tighten every round, something that everyone is mindful of.
"It's great to come home with two cars in the top ten, but on the other hand we know we could have potentially had two cars in the top five if the conditions had played our way a little bit," said team owner Mike Shank. "So to have such a great weekend with really fast cars but not come out of here with a little more advantage points-wise is a bit of a disappointment. But we have to be happy with the job everyone did this weekend and the cars don't have a scratch on them, so now we can head home and get working on preparing for Infineon right away."