Fighting Fourth for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian in Detroit


e1834024-8c02-4513-adab-35e4fff002bbDetroit, Mich. (31 May 2014) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian was back in familiar form on Saturday as the team shook off a run of bad recent racing luck to score its best finish of the year with a charge to fourth place in the Detroit Grand Prix.

John Pew and Ozz Negri combined to move from sixth on the combined Prototype and GTD IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship grid to finish fourth after an intense 100-minute sprint on the streets of Detroit.

The team had opened the weekend with the fastest speed on the charts, then worked hard to rebound from a technical setback just in time for qualifying on Friday, and then went on to put smarts and fast pit work in play to come home with the team’s first top-five finish of the season so far on Saturday.

Pew opened the race and gained a position early in his run before turning the car over to Negri during the first caution period, but there was concern in the pits as Pew had felt something amiss in the car, and the telemetry supported his feeling. Fortunately the team worked to find a solution as Negri rejoined the field at the very end of the 32-car line. He moved through the GT traffic and after another yellow flag, pounced to move up from sixth to take fourth at the checkered flag.

“Ozz and John did a great job for us—it’s great to get the monkey off our backs a little bit,” said team owner Mike Shank. “We had some issues-we thought we had a boost issue but it turns out it was just a fuel pressure problem. The guys did an awesome job to check it out and get it sorted and stay on the lead lap. Ozz had to fight through a bunch of GT traffic—which he did in just two laps—to get back up with the prototypes and be ready for that last restart. Fourth isn’t where we want to be, but it was good to get to the finish, get some points and now we can look ahead to the Glen and build on this.”

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Driver Comments, Detroit Grand Prix:
John Pew:  “I felt it (the fuel pressure problem)—it was right at the end of the stint. I’m glad that was all it was, I was afraid it was something else. The car was pretty good. I started on Ozz’s qualifying tires and they were a little rough at first, and then got to a sweet spot and then went off a bit at the end and it got a little bit of push.

“I’m happy with the day, to finish and in a decent position. That first caution was good for us, but the second caution went on a long time so we lost some time to be able to move up. So it was not bad, considering we came up from sixth to fourth and just had to keep on plugging away. It’s too bad we had that long caution because I think Ozz could’ve done more with it, but in a limited amount of time he did a great job. The Ford engine was great. The Shank guys did a great job and I think we’re back. I think our luck is changing.”

Ozz Negri: “On the restart, we had a few problems, considering everything that happened, with a couple long pit stops. Being back behind the GT cars for the first time, when I was passing them, you’ve got to go off-line and there’s a lot of pick-up on the tires. It takes forever to get rid of it.

“I did the best I could to clean up. The second restart, I knew that I had two P2 cars in front of me and I knew where they were quick. I knew if I didn’t get them right away, it would be very hard for me to pass them because they can brake really late. So I just really surprised one of them on the braking at the end of the back straight and just committed. I said ‘I’m going to go for it, and let’s see what happens.’ Dalziel was heads-up and when he saw I was committed, he backed off it and I was able to gain that position. The car was good. I’m just really happy for my guys. They work really, really hard. My Mike Shank Racing (with Curb/Agajanian) crew, they busted their butts yesterday putting in another gearbox after we had another gearbox problem (in the second practice session) and it ran flawlessly the whole race. Our EcoBoost engine also, was great. We just need to keep chipping away and we’ll be there. We needed to get the monkey off of our back and that’s what we did.”

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will be back in racing action in three weeks time when the third round of the Patron Endurance Championship is set to run at Watkins Glen for the Sahlen’s Six Hour June 29.