Michael Shank Racing Fourth at Road America

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian

Fourth at Road America

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian had been hoping to return to the podium at Road America for the third time at the track, but a race that turned into a fuel conservation strategy for the team at the historic 4-mile circuit saw drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri finish fourth on Sunday. The result extends the team’s streak of top-five finishes at the Wisconsin road course, having never finished outside of the top-five in six races.

After topping the first practice day on Friday with the quickest lap of the day, Michael Shank Racing was hopeful of a positive outing in Sunday’s 2 hour and 40 minute Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.

The No. 60 Honda Ligier JS P2 started among the PC field after an off during qualifying prevented Pew from delivering a flying lap. And the car showed promise in the early going with Pew making his way up through the PC field to maintain track position to the Prototypes before pitting to hand the car over to Negri just under the 1 hour mark.

“It was difficult starting behind the PC cars,” said Pew of the opening stint. “I was just trying to be smart about it and get around everybody as quickly and safely as possible. It’s hard to pass them because our acceleration isn’t that different in the top speed so I really had to pick my spot and get in their draft on the front straight away, then I could pass them easily. I’m happy I had a clean stint, after the yellow flag behind the pace car I had a bit of pick up on the tires and the car was a hard thing to drive there for a while. But I handed Ozz (Negri) the car in one piece and Ozz worked his magic and took it to fourth place. From where we started that’s pretty good. It’s good for the points and good for the team, Honda, and Ligier.”

When Negri returned to the track, a lack of long full course caution periods forced the team into a fuel conservation strategy which saw the team unable to fight forward for a podium finish.

“Fourth was good, but of course not as good as what I wanted,” said Negri. “We had to run a very conservative fuel strategy. At the end of the race the car was just how I like it. You have to take chances every single corner. It was a pretty eventful race. At the end of the day, from where we started, we closed on the 90 car (in the championship standings) and had a good pretty good race with him and the No. 55 car. It was a good points day for the team.”

Team Owner Mike Shank was pleased with the team’s performance as the Ohio-based squad had great pit stops and hung on for a solid fourth place finish.

“Everything went fairly well,” said Shank. “We were able to get some track position. Once we figured out that we were going to have to save fuel, we kind of had to back it off a bit. The BOP is still an issue. We just don’t have the equality that we’d like to. We have great one-lap pace when there is no traffic, but we still aren’t able to race well. Overall, a good finish for the team and now we’ll look ahead to the next one.”

With two rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship remaining on the 2016 calendar, Michael Shank Racing will turn the page forward as the team focuses on the next round at Circuit of the Americas. The Lone Star Le Mans will take place next month on September 15-17.