Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Sixth at Long Beach


Long Beach, Calif. (18 April 2015) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian scored a sixth place finish on the streets of Long Beach on Saturday after 100-minutes of intense racing. Drivers John Pew and Ozz Negri completed the first sprint event of the season with the No. 60 Honda-powered Ligier in Round 3 of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Having opened the 2015 TUDOR Championship with the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, teams approached the sprint event with a different mindset. With just 1 hour and 40 minutes of running, different strategies were put into play in a race that ran caution-free for the second year in a row.

Pew opened the race from seventh on the grid and kept the No. 60 Honda-powered Ligier clean through the opening 30 minutes. At the 35-minute mark the Michael Shank Racing team opted to take a gamble on strategy and pit for fuel, tires, and a driver change with hopes that a full course caution would then bunch the field and put Negri in strong position for the run to the finish.

“The car felt pretty good,” said Pew of the opening stint. “I put down some good laps – there were a couple that I was overreaching a little bit, but that happens. I handed the car over to Ozz (Negri) in one piece and it was a pretty good car. We took a pretty big gamble stopping when we did. We probably weren’t going to be top-five anyway with how strong the Daytona Prototypes were today, so we took a gamble. The yellows here are pretty unlikely in a race like this, but you have to take the chance so that’s what we did.”

Unfortunately, the hoped-for yellow never came and despite improving his lap time each time by, there was just not enough time in the short sprint race for the No. 60 machine to recover its track position.

Though the final result did not reflect the finish that the team had been hoping for, the group made great progress on the car through the entire weekend.

“The positive is how much we improved the car,” offered Negri. “We improved the car immensely. It’s not that the Long Beach street course isn’t optimal for this car, it’s just that this is our third race with our new Ligier while the guys in the Daytona Prototypes have been running that car for 10 years. We made a lot of gains in a short period of time. We are going to keep working and keep getting it better for Detroit (the next 100 minute-street course event). We’re definitely going to start on a much better spot than we did this weekend.”

“The car wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be when we first showed up, but we figured out what it needed,” echoed Team Owner Mike Shank. “The car was pretty good today, we just lost some track position. We’ll turn the page onto the next one and we think the Ligier is pretty well suited for Laguna. We want to come off the trailer strong and see where it puts us at the end of the day. We should be pretty competitive there so we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Michael Shank Racing will operate out of TruSpeed Autosport’s Costa-Mesa, California based race shop for the next few days to prepare for the following West Coast round of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca which will be held in two weeks’ time.

The Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase will be televised Sunday at 4:00 PM ET on FOX Sports 1.