Disappointment for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian in Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring


Photos Courtesy Brian Cleary


Sebring, Fla. (21 March 2015) – Michael Shank Racing Racing with Curb/Agajanian had been hoping for a big result in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday as the team debuted the No. 60 Tire Kingdom Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 in the iconic endurance event. Unfortunately, contact early on took the team out of contention for the result they had been targeting.

John Pew, Ozz Negri, and Justin Wilson combined in the fan-favorite bright red No. 60 Tire Kingdom machine and were fast all weekend.  And though the big 12-hour race was on Saturday, Michael Shank Racing won a race of its own on Friday when the team rallied to make an engine change in record time in order to qualify the car.

The engine swap was completed in four hours and 20 minutes which saw Negri put the car fourth on the grid for the historic Sebring event. The team worked well into the night on Friday to prepare the car for the race and hopes were high as the sun rose over Sebring International Raceway Saturday morning.

dd4d0e23-c9f3-46a9-b7aa-8407a3fb90d6Despite the relentless work of the Shank squad, the race didn’t go exactly to plan, as Negri took the green flag and reported handling issues on the No. 60. He pitted several times through the opening laps as the team worked to make the car better. The pressure was on to stay on the lead lap as Negri re-entered the track just seconds ahead of the race leader and on Lap 47 – about an hour and 40 minutes into the race – Negri came upon a GTLM machine. While attempting to make a pass, the Honda Ligier went over the inside curb which launched the car into a high-speed spin. Negri made hard contact with the tire barriers and the car sustained heavy damage.

“We had had a couple of issues in the opening segments,” said Negri, who emerged unscathed from the incident. “I had to come into the pits and do a couple of adjustments to the chassis and was close to going a lap down. I was just pushing very hard trying to stay on the lead lap. I got behind a GTLM car and I thought he let off and gave me the way but then he started to turn into the corner and I thought I was going to hit him. So I tried to avoid it and went over the curb and when I hit the curb, that’s when the car took off and spun the other way. It’s one of those things. Maybe I should have been a little more patient and passed him elsewhere but in the heat of the moment, you have to push, push, push. I’m just bummed for the Michael Shank Racing team that worked so hard changing over to a new engine yesterday.”

The Michael Shank Racing crew, known for its ‘never give up’ mentality, spent the day rebuilding the car with the intention to turn the final hours of the race into a test session as the group focused forward on the rest of the season with its new Honda-powered Ligier. But following several hours of work, the team made the decision to retire from the race.

“In the end, we decided to play it safe and not re-enter the race,” offered Team Owner Mike Shank. “It’s a shame because our guys worked so hard on this car all day. I’m so proud of this group, they never, ever give up. I’m really happy and relieved that Ozz is okay because that was a big hit but the Ligier is very safe and that crash was evidence of that. We started the race a little bit on the back foot, the car wasn’t happy and we had made some improvements and were on the right path. It is too bad after the guys did such a great job yesterday on that motor change. We’ll see what we can do to have the car ready to go for Long Beach and just pick up from there. We had a ton of speed in this car so it’s a shame to not convert that into a big result but we’ll now we’ll just look ahead and focus on Long Beach.”

Michael Shank Racing will next travel to Long Beach, California for Round 3 of the TUDOR Championship as the series takes to the streets of downtown Long Beach.