Daytona 24: Michael Shank Racing preview
Michael Shank Racing ready for Rolex return Ohio-based squad looking to go the distance in endurance classic against world-class competition with new car and new drivers Reynoldsburg, OH (1 February 05)-- Michael Shank Racing will return to action ...
Michael Shank Racing ready for Rolex return
Ohio-based squad looking to go the distance in endurance classic against world-class competition with new car and new drivers
Reynoldsburg, OH (1 February 05)-- Michael Shank Racing will return to action this weekend for the first race of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car season, the 43rd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the Ohio-based team has its sights firmly set on making it to the finish for the second year in a row. The team will be campaigning the twice-around-the-clock classic with four drivers, as full-season drivers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears, Jr. will be joined by experienced racers Duncan Dayton and Larry Connor.
The MSR team made their Rolex 24 debut in the Daytona Prototype ranks in 2004, making it through the rainy night to finish the race and score fourth in class. This year's race is likely to be one of the most competitive 24 hour races ever, with over sixty cars entered, including nearly thirty Daytona Prototypes. Grand American's remarkable growth has also attracted some world-class talent to the race, with over 100 championships represented by the participating drivers.
While the competition level has continued to grow in Rolex racing, team owner Mike Shank knows that the main competition can be the clock, and is focused on the basics when it comes to strategy for the race, which will start at noon on Saturday and finish at noon on Sunday.
"This is going to be a very exciting race, but its important to keep in mind that in order to win this race, first you have to make it through the night, and be in a position to be racing once the sun comes up," said Shank. "As basic as it is, just keeping the pavement rolling underneath the car, being efficient in our pit stops and driver changes, and keeping the car consistent in all the different conditions we will be facing, these are the fundamentals to getting through the race and being in a position to finish well."
The team has been busy preparing for the Rolex, developing the car with the new drivers and becoming familiar with the teams new equipment- a Riley chassis teamed with Pontiac power. The switch has given the team new confidence for the race, as the Riley chassis won the 2004 Grand American Championship, and a Pontiac engine finished on the podium of every race during the 2004 season on its way to taking the Manufacturer Championship.
"We are much better prepared going into this race than we were at this point last season," said Shank. "And we are quite comfortable with our new equipment, so we are really looking forward to getting a solid spot on the grid, and working our way through the race and hopefully being in a good position to get a good result to start the season."
Borkowski, who took runner up in the Daytona Prototype Drivers Championship in 2003, is also hoping to get a good start to the Rolex season, and is excited about the opportunity to mix it up with the field of all-stars.
"With this many competitive teams and drivers for the 24, I believe that this is going to be one of the most competitive endurance races ever," said Borkowski. "But we are ready to go and the team has done an excellent job in testing, so I am looking forward to the race. Its always hard to guess how the race is going to play out, but keeping your nose clean, being smart in traffic, and having good pit stops is going to be really important to get through the night and make it to the finish."
Experienced racer Larry Conner of Centerville, Ohio, also believes that the Michael Shank Racing squad is well prepared for the 24, and that the team has a lot of good chemistry.
"I think we have a good package, a good team, a good driver line-up, and a real good chance to finish the race and do well," Connor said. "I'm really happy to be with Michael Shank Racing for this race. It's the first time I've run with them, but they're professional, very organized and dedicated. Duncan [Dayton] and I have driven together in the past, and he's a great teammate," Connor continued. "I've raced against Mike Borkowski, and he's a top-flight driver. Paul Mears seems to be a good, solid guy too, so I think it's an excellent driver line-up."
The 14-race Rolex Sports Car Series season will get underway with the 43rd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on February 5-6. Qualifying for the event will take place on Thursday, February 3rd at 3:45 pm, with the race slated to start at noon on Saturday, February 5th.
Speed Channel will carry live coverage of the race beginning on Saturday at noon until 11pm, and will resume at 8 am on Sunday.
Michael Shank Racing was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr.
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