Lexington, Ohio (9 June 2012) - Michael Shank Racing drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew faced a disappointing day in the team’s home race of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after contact on the opening lap took the No. 60 Liveon Ford-Riley out of contention.
The Shank organization had been hoping to carry the momentum of several strong runs over the last few races into their home event but an unfortunate first-lap incident with the No. 8 Daytona Prototype saw Pew, who opened the race from seventh on the grid, pushed off track in the third corner. The No. 60 machine was sent into the wall and the car sustained significant rear end damage.
“It was unfortunate to be taken out in just the third turn,” said Pew of the incident. “We hit the wall and bent the exhaust, and lost rear downforce so the car just wasn’t good after that. I don’t think the hit from Enzo (Potolicchio) was intentional but it was just a bad place to be, there shouldn’t have been two cars there.”
Despite the poor handling of the badly damaged car, the Shanksquad continued to push hard as the team carried out flawless pit stops with both Pew and Negri displaying impressive performances behind the wheel of the ill-handling Ford-Riley to rally for an eighth place finish.
“I thought that after the warm up we had a good car and unfortunately what happened in the race put us out of contention,” said Negri. “I’m pretty sure Enzo didn’t do it on purpose, it was a mistake, but it cost us quite a bit. The car was a handful to drive. It was moving all around on the straight and I just did the best I could with it and hoped for some people to give some spots away to us. We ended up picking up one spot. We have a lot to do to catch up to the Corvettes.
“We just need to keep working as hard as we can. Get our car better get quicker, get closer to the Corvettes. I don’t know what GRAND-AM is going to do to make it equal – I mean it’s clear that we have a problem here. I promise we’re going to be working very hard.”
The team showcased their “never give up” mentality throughout the 2.75-hour race and currently sits third in the team championship standings.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” added team owner Mike Shank. “It was just 2 hours and 45 minutes of torture. The car was really beat up, but both Ozz and John did a great job with a car that was really hurt, really hurt. We finished, but I feel horrible for all the people that came out to support us in our home race. I’m just gutted about that.”
“I’m really disappointed for the Michael Shank Racing team,” echoed Pew. “This is their home race and everybody was looking forward to a good result. There were so many friends and family here for Mike and a lot of supporters. A huge thank you for being there and we’ll get them at Road America.”
Michael Shank Racing will look to rebound in Round 7 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship as the team travels to Road America where Pew scored his career-best qualifying effort in last year’s event. The Road America round takes place June 21-23 and will be televised LIVE at 12:00 PM (ET) on Saturday.