Michael Shank Racing takes podium at Watkins Glen (Watkins Glen, NY) 24 September 05--Michael Shank Racing returned to the Wakins Glen podium once again, as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri powered the Flight Options Lexus-Riley to third in the...
Michael Shank Racing takes podium at Watkins Glen
(Watkins Glen, NY) 24 September 05--Michael Shank Racing returned to the Wakins Glen podium once again, as Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri powered the Flight Options Lexus-Riley to third in the Crown Royal 250 on Saturday.
The sister Mears Motor Coach Pontiac-Riley of Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. finished seventh to take the eighth top-ten result of the season for the team.
Mears and Patterson started the race from eleventh and thirteenth respectively, and were racy right from the drop of the green flag, moving up to the top-ten in tandem before staging a dramatic intra-squad battle for sixth position, with both cars holding the spot at different times.
"That was the best race car I have ever driven," enthused Mears. "I have never had as much fun in a race car as I did today, and the battle I had with Mark (Patterson) was just great-we trusted each other and raced clean but were going at it like it was for the win-it was just outstanding."
Mears and Patterson both turned over the controls to their co-drivers Borkowski and Negri on lap twenty-five, with the pit lap shuffle giving both drivers plenty of work as the cars rejoined in eighteenth (Mears Motor Coach car) and sixteenth (Flight Options car).
Borkowski and Negri are among the top talents in the Rolex series, and put their skills on display as they fought through the order, but a long yellow flag period kept them from making up as much ground as they could.
"It was a shame that we didn't get more green flag time in, because Mike (Borkowski) really didn't get a chance to move up running all that time under a yellow," said Mears. "But he certainly made hay when he got the chance and moved us up into the top-ten."
A late-race restart set the stage for a sprint to the finish, as Borkowski and Negri continued to click off the positions. As a fierce battle for the lead raged ahead, Negri was able to move into third in the closing laps, taking his third career Rolex podium, and his first with co-driver Patterson.
"This is just so fantastic," beamed Negri. "We really didn't get off to a fast start this weekend and didn't get as much track time as we wanted before the race, but Mark (Patterson) and these guys on the Michael Shank Racing team did such a fantastic job today. The effort I put in the car doesn't come close to repaying their efforts this weekend, but its great we got on the podium and I can't wait for VIR!"
Patterson, who improved his times dramatically through the weekend and during the race, was pleased not only with the race result, but also his choice of team and co-driver.
"This Mike Shank team is simply exceptional, and of course what can I say about Oswaldo?" said Patterson. "I had a great battle with Paul (Mears) early in the race, and the car was just fantastic. I am really excited to be working with Oswaldo and Mike Shank's team, and getting to the podium is fantastic for just our third start!"
For team owner Mike Shank, the podium and double-top ten finish was a direct result of Mears and Patterson stepping up when it counted.
"It's great to be on the podium again," smiled Shank. "Paul and Mark did a fantastic job today, just amazing. They did everything we had hoped they would and more-to get the cars up into the top ten and then be fighting for sixth-that was great to watch. Of course Mike and Oz did a great job today to move the cars so far up the field in as few green flag laps as we had. So we'll take this momentum with us and get ready for VIR in two weeks time."
In addition to a champagne shower and a Crown Royal trophy, the Flight Options car also collected a cash award with the "Suntrust Improve Your Position Award" after moving up ten positions from the race start to finish.