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Apr 01, 2013 - 04:51 PM
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Michael Shank Racing Set To Hit 200 At Barber Motorsports Park
Posted by: newsla on Apr 01, 2013 - 04:48 PM
Grand Am News
Michael Shank Racing Set To Hit 200 At Barber Motorsports Park

After a month long break in race action, Michael Shank Racing is eager to return for Round 3 of the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season as the team travels to Alabama for the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park – a track where the team has proven successful in previous years. The event will mark Michael Shank Racing’s 200th entry in Daytona Prototype competition.


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The weekend will see the team welcome back Michael Valiante, who will share the driving duties with John Pew in the No. 60 Ford-Riley as Ozz Negri will sit out the next two Rolex events to facilitate full recovery from the leg injury he suffered in off-season training. Valiante is no stranger to Barber Motorsports Park, having scored a podium position of third in 2009 with Michael Shank Racing as well as netting the pole position at Barber in 2008 for WTR.

Michael Shank Racing has experienced success at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course having earned four podiums at the track (3rd in 2005, 2008, 2009 and a runner-up finish in 2010).

Gustavo Yacaman and Antonio Pizzonia will share driving duties in the No. 6 Ford-Riley as the duo makes their second Rolex Series race start together. The event marks Pizzonia’s first visit to the picturesque Alabama road course, while Yacaman will look to put the experience he gained in his three Indy Lights starts at the track (including his best Barber finish of fourth in last year’s event) to good use.

While the final result at COTA didn’t fully reflect the competitive effort, the exciting duo of former open-wheel racers made an instant impression in their GRAND-AM debut together and will look to continue to move up the order this weekend.

Another podium-promising outing in last year’s race came to an abrupt halt when a GT class machine re-entered the track in a blind corner and drove counter-race, forcing Pew, who was running in the lead pack at the time, to drive off track in avoidance. The No. 60 got stuck in the grass and while the field circulated, the Ford machine fell three laps down. But with great strategy and pace in hand, Pew and Negri then rallied back for an eighth place result.

Michael Shank Racing looks to turn its Barber luck back around this weekend after a disappointing Round 2 at Circuit of the Americas in which contact to both Michael Shank Racing machines took the team out of contention for a podium finish in GRAND-AM’s debut in Austin. The No. 6 finished seventh and the No. 60 in 16th.

“For whatever reason, Barber has always been a track where we’ve been competitive so hopefully that will be true again this weekend,” said Shank. “Obviously it is a little bit different playbook for us having Michael (Valiante) with us, but he plugs right in to the team and we appreciate him being able to help. Antonio will be learning the track for the first time but he showed in Texas he can pick it up very quickly, and of course this will be the first of a few tracks where Gus has run before, so I’m looking forward to seeing those guys keep building on what they started together in Texas. I have to admit that I was surprised about it being our 200th start and I think it’s pretty cool but of course you are always looking forward to the next one, so hopefully we can get down there and make it a weekend to remember!”

The Porsche 250 event opens with a promoter test day on Wednesday and official practice will follow on Thursday. Qualifying is set for Friday morning and the 2-hour sprint event begins on Saturday at 1:45 PM (ET).

The Porsche 250 is held as part of the IndyCar Series event weekend.

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