TEAM NEWS: Michael Shank Racing ready for one-day challenge at Daytona

Photo by John Thawley (Columbus, OH) 4 July 2007-- The last time Michael Shank Racing raced at Daytona International Speedway's 3.65-mile oval-based road course, the team had to battle the many challenges that can develop over twenty-four hours of racing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

After enjoying the high of leading the race to the low of several mechanical setbacks, with nearly everything in between--including losing the engine cover after getting hit from behind during a yellow flag period--the team came home with yet another top-ten in the Rolex 24 at Daytona to open up the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series Season.

This Thursday, the Columbus-based team will be back in action at the famed Florida facility, but the challenge will be much different, as the intense one-day format means the team will have to operate at top form to overcome all the challenges before the race even starts. At two hours and forty-five minutes long, the Brumos 250 race is much shorter than the Rolex 24, but with a schedule that starts at 7:30 AM and ends hours after the race ends around 11:00 PM, it will still be a long day at Daytona.

But the team is riding a wave of strong results with both team Lexus-Riley entries, and will rely not only on meticulous planning and strength from the engineering department, but also on strong execution of logistics and a big bank of experience at the World Center of Speed from team.

"You have got to get everything right from the moment they let you into the track," said team owner Mike Shank. "And that can only happen if you've planned out everything that's going to happen the entire day-from getting through tech to multiple pit-set-ups to the drivers meeting. Not to mention trying to plan for if things don't go the way you want them to. Because if something sets you back early in the day, you are going to be playing catch up right to the checkered flag."

Another key resource for the team is going to be the driver line-up that Shank has attracted to the Daytona Prototype program.

Two drivers who know how to find their way onto the podium at Daytona are Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson. The two scored second place in the Rolex 24 event in 2006 and backed that up with another run into the top ten in the 2007 event, sharing driving duties with the Penske pair of Sam Hornish and Helio Castroneves.

Negri and Patterson have already taken to the steps for post-race podium celebrations once earlier this year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a strong third place, and the two are eager to grow their top-ten count to five on the season. Patterson is also a close second in the Trueman Award standings behind Tracy Krohn.

"This team always shows up at Daytona with a good set-up," said Patterson. "Even though it's difficult to practice and qualify in one set of conditions during the day and then race in a completely different kind of conditions at night, we've been through this before and Dave (Kanning) always comes up with something good. And if it rains, that's going to add a whole new element to the mix..."

The sister No. 6 Lexus Riley will again be piloted by Ian James and John Pew, who raised eyebrows with his impressive qualifying debut as he claimed eighth on the grid two weekends ago at Mid-Ohio. Pew will be making his first run at Daytona with Michael Shank Racing, but has raced on the track previously in Rolex GT competition. The Pew/James combination has carded four top-ten results on the trot, and will look to extend that streak again this Thursday night.

"I'm excited to be racing a Daytona Prototype at Daytona," said Pew. "I am still building my experience in these cars, but I am pleased with how well things have started since I joined the team. Ian's done a great job every time out, and hopefully we can just keep moving up step by step."

The Brumos 250 will be covered LIVE on Speed starting at 8:00PM EST on Thursday.

Both Michael Shank Racing entries are in the top-ten in the Rolex Championship standings, with the No. 6 in eighth, one point ahead of the No. 60 in ninth.

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