Fighting Fifth Place for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian at CTMP


Bowmanville, Ontario (13 July 2014) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian finished the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix fifth with the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost/Riley as drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew combined to score a top-five result in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar championship debut at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday.

The race ran at a flat out pace with two hours and forty-five minutes of green-flag running right to the checkered flag. The north of the border event marked the first-ever appearance for Michael Shank Racing at the track that was long known as Mosport, with the team having tested ahead of the race weekend at the track to accelerate the learning curve.

A different range of conditions, along with a full reset of the track surface with heavy overnight and early morning rains, meant that the team was continually working to match the pace set by the leading P2 runners.

Pew opened the race from seventh on the grid, and was able to move up to fourth in the order before turning the car over to Negri. Pew had the advantage of some previous race experience at the track, and put that to good use in his stint.

“I’m really surprised there wasn’t (a caution) but in talking to people who race here all the time, they say it’s not that unusual,” said Pew. “It’s such a ‘commitment’ track that people are just a little bit careful here. I found that going on the outside of Turn 2, passing GTs, everyone was very heads up, everyone seemed to be watching out for each other. The consequences here can be big if something bad happens.”

As Negri took over the controls, he returned to the track sixth in the order. Fighting an imbalance in the car, Negri made the most of any clear laps that he got, which were few and far between, to keep clicking off the laps and move in to fifth at the finish.

“We were pushing very hard,” said Negri. “I drove every lap really hard. I think we got the most out of what we have.  Once again, the team never gave up. They’re pushing all the time, always with the best intention of going forward. That’s our philosophy – working hard all the time. Working for the better. We’re here to win it. As well as the Ford guys, who are always very supportive of us and helping out. The Ganassi team, we’ve been working really well with them. I feel sorry for what happened for them today (pre-race crash). We’ll take fifth.”

“We’ve had a couple bad weekends now and they are really hard to take,” said team owner Mike Shank. “The work my guys put into this is really hard and its frustrating when things don’t go our way. We have some things that we have to get better on the car. Ford Racing and Roush Yates have spent so much time on this EcoBoost motor; we’re making gains on it. We had a good car yesterday morning but we lost it and couldn’t get it back. We’ll go back and regroup for Indy and hopefully come out of there with something we can be steady and consistent with across the weekend.”

For Pew, the return to Mosport – where he had debuted in Pro Mazda competition – was a solid outing and a result to build on in the coming weeks as the team moves to the wide open spaces of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  “I’m happy with fifth place today,” said Pew. “Our car today was not our top car. The track changed between practice and the race and we missed it a little bit. The car was oversteering quite a bit; Ozz and I both struggled with it. But we just kept it together and the top five is good for points. The Ford EcoBoost was flawless. I just love that sound when that turbo kicks in.”

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will return to Stateside competition in two weeks as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway stages the Brickyard Grand Prix and Round 8 of the 2014 championship.