Tuesday
May152007

TEAM NEWS: Track-record holding team looks for more success in Monterey

Photo by John Thawley When the Rolex Sports Car Series first visited Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2005, Michael Shank Racing was a one-car team working to establish itself as a contender in the endurance sports car series after making the switch from formula car racing. Despite utilizing a rented race car and adapting the team to field two entries for the weekend, Michael Shank Racing showed a strong performance, setting a track record and winning the pole as both team entries finished in the top ten.

From there, the Columbus, Ohio-based team grew to a full-time two car operation, taking a podium in the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2006 and closing out the season by scoring the team's first Rolex Sports Car Series overall win in the Sunchaser 9 Hour event at Miller Motorsport Park.

The win helped Lexus secure the manufacturer championship and firmly established Michael Shank Racing as a top-flight contender in the Rolex ranks.

"Looking back at it, we have come a long way since Laguna in 05, and everyone on this team is working to keep moving up," said team owner Mike Shank. "We had a good test on the way out here to Laguna and hopefully that will pay off for us this weekend. John (Pew) knows he has a learning curve ahead of him, but he was great in testing and of course Ian's been doing a fantastic job for us so we should be right there. Oz obviously is quick here and Mark has had some good runs on this track so we'd like to target more top-tens if we can stay out of trouble during the race."

As the team prepares for this weekend's Daytona Prototype-only race at Laguna Seca, Michael Shank Racing is looking to continue on a positive trajectory as both team Lexus-Riley entries are well-placed to emerge from the weekend with spots firmly in the top ten championship standings.

Track record holder Oswaldo Negri will team once again with 2006 Trueman Award winner Mark Patterson in the No. 60 Lexus-Riley. The No. 6 Playboy Racing entry will have a new face behind the helmet as John Pew joins the team for the rest of the season in Henri Zogaib's Lexus-Riley to co-drive with Ian James. Fortunately, Pew has considerable experience at Laguna and will find the transition to DPs quite smooth at this wonderful racing venue.

With an extensive racing resume that includes everything from shifter carts to formula racing to previous starts in the Rolex Series, Pew brings a similar racing background to that of Mark Patterson as he prepares for his first start with MSR.

"I am very much hoping to follow Mark's path," said Pew. "He's set the bar pretty high and I know I need to get some seat time yet, but I know this is a great team to work with and I'm also looking forward to racing with Ian."

Patterson will be looking to shrug off a disappointing round four at VIR, which saw the distinctive orange and black No. 60 bounced off track multiple times by competitors, all of whom escaped penalty for their on-track aggressions.

"We will put the frustrations of VIR behind us and focus on the championship," said Patterson. "Obviously Dave (Kanning) has a great set-up for this track and Oz takes to the place like water, so we should be strong this weekend. I'm also looking forward to having John (Pew) with us this weekend. We've been teammates before and I think he's going to really enjoy himself in these Daytona Prototypes."

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