TEAM NEWS: Double top-ten for Michael Shank Racing at Mid-Ohio

Photo by John Thawley (Lexington, OH) 23 June 2007-- Even though Michael Shank Racing was formed at Mid-Ohio, and has a huge bank of experience at the track in a wide variety of racing categories through the years, the track has not always been entirely kind to the Columbus-based team in Rolex Sports Car Series competition.

But on Saturday night, the hometown team came through with a double top-ten finish in the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at Mid-Ohio as Oswaldo Negri brought the KeyBank Lexus-Riley home in ninth and Ian James crossed the finish line in tenth.

The entire 111-lap race distance was run at a flat-out pace after the Daytona Prototype-only event failed to produce any yellow flags as the nineteen-car field streaked to the checkered flag.

"I'm glad to get both cars into the top ten here, but I wish we could have put on a better show for these Mid-Ohio fans," said Shank. "These all-green races make our pit stops and fuel strategy that much more crucial, and we got a great performance from our guys again today. I can't say enough about the job Mark and John did in qualifying and then again today in the race, even though we got a bit unlucky on the start, and then Ian and Oz both just kept moving up to the finish."

John Pew started the race from eighth on the grid, but was shuffled back in a first-lap fracas that ended up also hurting the sister KeyBank entry of Patterson.

"I guess Shane Lewis decided to use me as his brakes going into the corner, so he hit me and that knocked me into Mark, unfortunately," said Pew. "So that cost me some spots, and worse yet, the car was damaged and never as quick as it was in qualifying. So I was hoping to do better but, the car just had so little grip so I just did the best I could and turned it over to Ian, who did another great job tonight."

The start also didn't go as well as planned for Patterson after the contact from Lewis and Pew, but in the same way he posted a strong recovery in his qualifying session Friday, he recovered once again to set the pace before turning the car over to Negri in the middle stages of the race.

"I had a great start and got a good run on the outside going into seven, but Shane hit John and I ended up with a couple wheels in the dirt, and that never is a good way to start things!" said Patterson. "But the car got much better as the fuel burned off. At the end of the day, it was a good run for an all-green flag race and another top ten towards the championship."

Pew did his own recovery act as he kept a swift pace, even holding off a ferocious charge from the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series driver champion for several laps despite being on very old tires, before turning the car over to James.

"The balance was a bit compromised because of the damage, with a ton of understeer," said James. "But I just figured out how to drive it that way and we were holding our own from there."

The large group of local fans on hand to cheer Michael Shank Racing on drew a collective deep breath as Negri and James fought in close proximity for positions in the top ten late in the race, as the two cars came home just three seconds apart.

"This is a tough place to pass obviously, but there was some traffic ahead and I had a good run on Ian going into seven," said Negri. "It was a bit close but of course I didn't want to do anything to my teammate! But I wanted to get the best result possible for Mark and all the guys and every spot is important in this championship."

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