Top-Five Finish for Michael Shank Racing in Lone Star Le Mans


4f00ff88-d758-404f-8364-314ec669463bAustin, Texas (20 September 2014)  – In racing, a moment can change the entire outcome of a race and that was exactly the case for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian in the penultimate round of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday. Both John Pew and Ozz Negri showed themselves strong in the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost Riley before tallying a fifth place finish at the checkers of the Lone Star Le Mans event.

After a series of practice and qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday, Pew took the green flag for the 2.75-hour race from seventh on the grid. Following an aborted first start, Pew raced hard in the No. 60 for the first hour and ran as high as second place before pitting to hand the car over to Negri to finish out the race.

Unfortunately, just as the team was preparing to pit, the first and only caution period of the race fell and closed the pit lane, leaving Pew out on track with a quickly waning fuel load.

“It was too bad the first start was called off because I had a good start and got around the No. 2 car but on the second attempt I was unable to get around him,” said Pew of the start. “There was a lot of debris in the last two corners for quite a while and you have to drive off line to miss it. Finally at the very end of my stint, they were just about to call me in for the stop and then came the yellow. Because the pits were closed, I had to really work hard to save enough fuel to make it until we could get in for the stop.”

When the race returned to green, the team added fuel, bolted on fresh Continental Tires and Negri slid behind the wheel. As Negri rejoined the field, he quickly showed himself up to speed with the leaders of the race, but the off-sequence pit stop combined with a lack of caution periods meant that the team was unable to challenge for a podium finish.

After completing their final pit stop with just over an hour left to race, and without the benefit of any further caution periods, Negri ultimately had to play the fuel conservation game and drove home to a solid fifth place finish.

“It was an interesting race,” commented Negri after the race. “We got a little bit unlucky on that yellow. Ganassi pitted right before it went yellow. It’s tough coming from behind, going through the pack. The team did a great job coaching me through pace and saving fuel. It’s so frustrating because you want to go fast but at the same time, you have to save enough fuel to finish. I was looking at the dash and I couldn’t see any more lights on the fuel display and I thought I was out of fuel but the team said I had three more laps to go. I kept doing what I was doing and trying to keep up the pace as well. I tried to get to the No. 2 car but he was just a little too far ahead. We were able to gap the No.  90 – we started off about 11 seconds ahead of them and were able to stretch that out to about 20 seconds. The changes that we made for the race definitely made the car better. The hardest part is disciplining yourself not to go 10/10ths when the team is asking you to save fuel. You are lifting and braking earlier and short-shifting but we did what we had to do to finish P5. I thought we had the pace to be up there with the leaders if we had had track position.”

Team Owner Mike Shank was ultimately happy with the consistent result after a season of highs and lows for the determined team.

“We got a really bad break on the yellow and that’s really what cost us track position,” explained Shank. “Ganassi got the lucky break, they got in to pit on that yellow, but we couldn’t make it in time before the pits were closed. I’m actually happy with this result though. The car was a lot better than it was in qualifying and I know that if we could have had the track position, we could have been a top three finisher. Good for them and good for Ford Eco Boost, and all the guys at Roush Yates and Ford Racing. Congrats to all of them for a great win today.”

Michael Shank Racing now looks forward to finishing the season strongly in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship finale at Road Atlanta in just two weeks’ time.