Negri Puts Tire Kingdom on Rolex 24 Pole for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Racing


005d7d7d-82e5-4e77-b056-f31577d40cecDaytona Beach, Fla. (22 January 2015) – With team owner Mike Shank urging him on via the team radio, Ozz Negri dug deep to find the extra speed to put the No. 60 Tire Kingdom Service Centers Honda-Ligier JS P2 on the Rolex 24 At Daytona pole for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian on Thursday.

The fast lap of 1:39.194-seconds around the iconic 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course earned Negri his second career Rolex 24 At Daytona TOTAL Lubricants pole position as the Ohio-based team continued to impress with the new Honda-Ligier JS P2 combination after only taking delivery of the all-new car at the beginning of December.

After scoring his second pole in the event, Negri will chase his second win in the race starting on Saturday (LIVE FOX network broadcast 2:00 PM ET) with co-drivers John Pew, Matt McMurry, and AJAllmendinger.

692513f7-a54a-44aa-9a58-cd110fd76120“This is all a testament to the partnerships that we have with Tire Kingdom, Curb, Onroak, and Honda, all the incredible work this team has put in, and of course another awesome job from Ozz (Negri),” said Shank. “It was very, very, close with the times but as the Continental Tires kept warming up, we kept picking up speed. This is a great way to kick off the Tire Kingdom partnership but we didn’t come here to qualify well. It’s always good to be starting up front, but we are very focused on what we want to do in the race.”

Negri pushed the No. 60 machine to the limit during the 15-minute qualifying session held Thursday evening.

“I knew from the previous session that the tires would be at their peak on Lap 4 or 5,” said Negri of the run. “I was just going for it and rode way too much speed into the busstop and changed direction pretty good. I went on the throttle at once and the car hit the curb a little too hard on the inside and just started a tank slapper and I’m going toward the outside wall and I thought ‘(Mike) Shank won’t like this!’ That lap was perfect up until that point when I got a little bit too greedy.”

Despite the hiccup, Negri maintained focus behind the wheel and managed to secure the pole position on the ninth lap of the run.

9bd37aa5-94ad-4e29-a06d-08d1decde52f“It’s the second time on pole here for us, and now we need a second Rolex watch to look cool with it!” laughed Negri. “We’ve won the race once. We know how to win it. We may look good and we may look strong but we never stop working. Five minutes before qualifying I was looking at video, looking at data, working with my teammates, my engineers, and it paid off. It wasn’t easy. I pushed as hard as I could. I knew the Daytona Prototype with the cooler weather would come back to us so it took every little bit of my effort and the effort of the whole team. I have to thank Tire Kingdom, Honda HPD Engines, Continental Tires, and OnRoak – the Ligier chassis. We have immense support from them and it proved we made the right move.”

The qualifying result was a welcome reward for the hard work that the team put into developing the new car in a short amount of time.

“We did our homework, we were not the fastest here at the Roar (test days),” added Negri. “But we worked very hard in the short amount of time that we had.”

The pole marked a positive first chapter in the team’s relationship with Honda providing power for the Ligier.

“It’s nice to be on the pole here, it’s always good to be up at the front,” offered Allen Miller, Honda Performance Development Race Team Leader. “Congratulations to Michael Shank Racing. It’s a big day for them having changed from the DP to a P2 car. I think they’ve made a good choice and I think we’re going to have a very good year with them.”

Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will be back on track Friday morning for a final practice session. Ozz Negri will lead the field to the green at 2:10 PM ET (FOX Network, 2:00 PM ET) on Saturday in the 53rd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.