Michael Shank Racing Fights To Finish at Watkins Glen Tough opening laps but team fights back (Watkins Glen, NY) 7 August 09- Michael Shank Racing rebounded from a challenging start to Friday night's Crown Royal 200 to fight back with both team...
Michael Shank Racing Fights To Finish at Watkins Glen
Tough opening laps but team fights back
(Watkins Glen, NY) 7 August 09- Michael Shank Racing rebounded from a challenging start to Friday night's Crown Royal 200 to fight back with both team Daytona Prototype entries and score 9th with the No. 60 Ford-Riley driven by Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri and 11th with the No. 6 Ford-Riley shared by John Pew and Michael Valiante.
The two-hour sprint race at Watkins Glen opened with the No. 6 car suffering a turn one spin in the early laps as Pew was working his way forward after starting deep in the pack. The resulting slow lap around the track and pit stop to replace the flat tire sent the car two laps down, and made for a challenging opening stint for Pew, who had been hoping to score his third Rolex Series podium of the season.
"I went to the brakes, and the car just turned around on me so I'm not really sure what happened," said Pew. "From there, the spin left me with some flat spotted tires and the vibration was really bad and I could barely see going into the bus stop. It was a really frustrating way to start the day! But Michael really put in some fast laps in the second half of the race and we were able to keep our position in the championship, so that was a good recovery by the team considering how things started for us today."
The sister No. 60 also suffered early in the race as Patterson was hit from behind after getting a good start, forcing him into the pits for repairs and also losing significant track position.
"We had a very good start and I got a well-timed call to 'go!' from the spotter so I was able to pick up a couple of positions on the inside," said Patterson. "But the No. 2 car came inside me just like a lunatic-with all four tires smoking, just completely diabolical and he hit me. I know they've had a frustrating season but that's no reason to drive like that and ruin someone else's race. So that was a big set back for us, but the car was otherwise strong-we budgeted that the NASCAR rubber would leave the track very slippery and it was, indeed! But to salvage a top ten from the way we started today is remarkable."
Despite the tough start to the race, the team converted well-executed quick pit stops and a pair of very fast race cars to recover from being shown on the second page on the scoring monitors to steadily move up right until the checkered flag fell.
"We had another podium car today but with Mark getting hit, it just wasn't going to be possible," said Negri. "It's tremendously frustrating to have a car that is that quick, but to have to fight from a lap down before even an hour into the race. The car was so well set-up and I had no problems getting through traffic but we just had too much ground to make up today to be competitive at the finish. It's a frustrating night for everyone. But the team did a fantastic job-pit stop, strategy, and of course a fast car. You have to have that, and a little bit of good luck, and we just didn't today. But we will be ready to go and fight for it again in Montreal for sure."
"The Rolex Sports Car Series is so close and competitive, that to be there fighting for a podium at the finish, you just have to have a weekend where there are no mistakes and everything goes your way," said Michael Valiante. "The car was very fast today. I could run with anybody out there, especially on the second half of the race because the second set of tires was really consistent. Hopefully we can have a little bit of luck and have the weekend go our way when we head up to Montreal."
The eventful Glen sprint race, which once again provided an exciting Rolex Series show for the NASCAR fans on hand as part of the Sprint Cup weekend, is one the team is looking forward to putting in the rear view mirror and start looking ahead to the trip north of the border in three weeks' time.
"If you had asked me before the race if I would be happy with a 9th and an 11th finish, I'd have said 'no way' because we knew we had some fast cars and felt like we could be fighting for podiums tonight," said team owner Mike Shank. "But after the first half hour that we experienced, it was a tremendous result for us to fight back to get that finish, just incredible. And to come out of this weekend with at least a few championship points and to not lose the fourth position we have in the championship with the six car is great. Hopefully we can have a little bit better luck in Montreal."
Michael Shank Racing will return to race action at the famed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend on August 28-9.