Sunday
Mar252007

TEAM NEWS: Michael Shank Racing shows perseverance at Homestead

Photo by John Thawley (Homestead, FL)24 March 2007--Michael Shank Racing's Henri Zogaib and Ian James finished eleventh after leading nearly twenty laps late in the Komastsu Grand Prix at Homestead Miami Speedway on Saturday. Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri came home fifteenth in class with the NetApp/TSP Lexus-Riley after running in the top ten for most of the two and a half-hour event.

The promising race outing skewed from plan after contact from other competitors and a tough penalty call prevented the Michael Shank Racing entries from scoring another double-top ten finish as they had in Mexico City earlier this month.

"The results are disappointing given how well most of the race went for us," said team owner Mike Shank. "But some things just didn't go our way at the end. We had quick cars and our drivers did another great job this weekend, but to do well in this series, everything has to come together just right, and that just didn't happen for us today."

Zogaib started the race from nineteenth on the grid, but was up to twelfth overall before turning the controls over to James, who powered to the front by the fiftieth lap. The race was slowed by multiple caution periods, creating a variety of strategies for the Rolex field. The No. 6 entry led 17 laps before returning to the pits for fuel, but the strategy didn't work out as planned when the field was slowed for even more cautions late in the race.

"It was good to lead a Rolex race for the second time this season," said James. "Unfortunately, our pit strategy didn't work as well as we hoped with the way the yellows played out. But Henri did a great job at the start, and the car was really good during my stint so we know we have some good results in our future, just not today."

"I have to admit it was a thrill to see Ian ahead of my good friend JC France's car out there," said Zogaib. "I felt really good about how I started the race, and the strategy we had for the first segment worked to perfection. The car was fantastic and I felt very comfortable out there. I am looking forward to getting more time in the car soon."

The No.60 Lexus/Riley, which carried the NetApp/TSP branding for the event, started from thirteenth on the grid with Patterson at the controls. The South African native emerged from a big battle with several of his Trueman Award combatants to move up to ninth before turning the car over to Negri. Negri remained in the top ten running but before he could make his push into the top five, he went off course.

"Things were going pretty well and we were in the top ten with a lot of racing to do yet, but unfortunately I hit on some oil or something I didn't see and went right off in turn one," said Negri. "I hate it for the team and all the friends and family who were out here to see us race, but it was just some bad luck for us today."

After returning to the track, Negri turned the machine back over to Patterson, who generated more miles toward the competitive Trueman Award, which calculates both miles completed and finishing position as he brought the NetApp/TSP machine home in fifteenth.

"It was a great race, but it just didn't end up the way we hoped it would. My first stint was fabulous." said Patterson. "We avoided a problem right at the start and were in the top ten by the time I came into the pits, but things didn't go as well for us from there. But some other cars had some problems as well, so hopefully it won't hurt us too much in the championship and in the Trueman Award standings."

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