Daytona24: Michael Shank Racing preview

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (26 January 2010)-Michael Shank Racing will make a fifth consecutive two-car assault in the Rolex 24 At Daytona to kick off the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season this weekend. The race ...

Daytona24: Michael Shank Racing preview

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (26 January 2010)-Michael Shank Racing will make a fifth consecutive two-car assault in the Rolex 24 At Daytona to kick off the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season this weekend. The race marks the Columbus, Ohio-based organization's seventh campaign in the endurance classic. With an established record of strong showings in the race, the team has good reason for confidence ahead of the event, which will be carried live on SPEED Channel starting at 3:00 PM ET.

Michael Shank Racing scored 2nd in the 2006 running of the Rolex 24, and after sweeping both spots on the front row with a record-setting run in qualifying for the 2008 event, was in position to win the race as Sunday dawned, only to suffer a mechanical set back late in the day.

The Michael Shank Racing driver line-up for the Rolex 24 is a strong combination of speed, experience, and possibly most importantly in a race of this nature, familiarity, as seven of the eight racers have previous Rolex Sports Car Series starts with Michael Shank Racing. Three drivers in each of the two team Daytona Prototype entires also bring Rolex Sports Car Series race-winning experience to bear as well.

Thursday will see the grid set in qualifying (3:45 PM) as the team pursues another pole position.

Mike Shank: Team Owner, No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford/Riley and No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley W"They are in my opinion the best Daytona Prototype drivers I can put in the car. Every single person in both these cars has a lot of Daytona Prototype experience in this race, and can wheel them hard, but smartly, and get this race won. Our pre-race preparation has to be spot on and that's a big focus for us. Some things happened last year that were out of our control and kept us from making it to the finish. We know our cars will be quick, that we have the right guys driving them, and we just need to set our pace and stay out of trouble for 23 hours to be in position to win this thing in the last hour."

Ozz Negri, No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver:
"Like Mike (Shank) said, it's great to have guys with so much Daytona Prototype experience in our line-up. Everyone gets along, we are similarly sized, so we don't need (seat) inserts, and I think we have a very strong line up. This is a magical race, one that everyone wants to win-not only for the watch, but to win. Hopefully we can work enough to get it this time. I am really looking forward to this year, especially to have Crown Royal Extra Rare on the car, it's very motivating to have them with us."

John Pew No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver
"It's great to try to fill Mark's place! It's going to be difficult, but I'm going to try my best, knowing Ozz and Mark for a long time and seeing how they worked together, I'm looking forward to stepping up my game even further this year. I'm proud and humbled to have such a great brand like Crown Royal Extra Rare with us this year on the car. I want to get a new Rolex watch, no question! We have a great team and we're all very comfortable with this Ford-Riley package. It's great to have all these great people with me on this effort. This team has so many guys who have been here from the start, that everything is seamless and so well organized. It's a great environment and that kind of organization can be key in a race like this."

Brian Frisselle, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
"I'm really excited to work with Michael, I think everyone made notice of the fact that he was on the top of the sheets all year long last year. He's obviously very talented and I think the two of us together can hopefully be strong in the championship. This is a big event, and I think we have everything we need to be competitive. I am feeling very comfortable working with the team and I'm looking forward to having a good day at Boggy Creek on Wednesday and hopefully having another good day and night this weekend!"

Michael Valiante, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
"Michael Shank Racing always puts together a great program and the cars consistently run up front. So for the 24 Hours, it's been really the same thing, the car's always quick there.So I definitely think that we've got the driver lineup to win this year. As a driver, you have to discipline yourself especially if it's in the first hour and make sure you're not running faster than you need to and you're not wearing the car out, which is really the most important thing, because the for the win really race starts that last half hour. You are trying to get yourself in a good position, whichever driver ends up in that last hour, give them a car that is in a position to win and where they can push ten-tenths if it comes to that. Last year there were four cars fighting for the victory in the last hour and everyone was pushing very hard at the end and they had the cars to do that."

AJ Allmendinger No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
"I love coming back and racing for Mike-he's one of those real racers and his team is great. You can see the passion he has for it in how his team executes. I am excited for him and this team, with the line up that he has for the full season I think they are going to be really strong all year long. We finished second in this race the first year, and we've had the opportunity to win it every year since. I see both cars contending for victory, and hopefully the six car can do that. It's exciting for me to be with Ford here in the Daytona Prototypes because now I'm with them in Cup so I hope to start the year off well for them and score well here in the 24."

Burt Frisselle No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver
"The relationship with Michael Shank Racing and AIM Autosport has always been a strong one, we've been able to share information and work together so this is great. For me, this is a kind of second home to be racing with Mike Shank. I love racing for this team. It also is a great way for Mark Wilkins and I to get excited about racing with AIM again at Homestead so hopefully we can start the season off strong here and try to help get Ford a Championship at the end of the season."

Mark Wilkins, No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver
"I have to thank Mike Shank-this is a fantastic team, one that I grew up watching when he ran Ken Wilden in Atlantics when I was just a kid and they had so much success. It is a real pleasure to be here with these co-drivers, to be the new guy here. Everyone is great, you just slot into the car, do your job and get going. It's a great environment for the drivers and I think we have a great shot at it this year. All the ingredients are in place, we just have to execute well, and get a little good racing luck along the way!"

Mark Patterson, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
"Running the Rolex 24 with the caliber of competition that the race always attracts is a tremendous thrill. It can break your heart when the race doesn't go the way you hoped it would, but it can also be an amazing feeling to make it to the podium. We've experienced both those outcomes and certainly are focused on getting back on the podium! This is a great line up, with both these cars. If we get to the podium, I have no objection to what position where they are behind us! We've raced against each other in several different series--None of us is a stranger-I met Ozz through John, so we all work well together. Having worked with Ozz these last few years I will tell you-watch out for John Pew this year!

-source: msr

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