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DATE News (chronologically)
01/08/09
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Michael Shank Racing Announces Rolex 24 Lineup
Michael Shank Racing has attracted another strong driver line up for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona as the team announced highly competitive driving rosters for a two-car Daytona Prototype effort in the Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening race on January 24th.

Michael Shank Racing enters the 2009 Rolex Sports Car Series season with tremendous momentum. The team started 2008 running the Rolex 24 with both team entries on the front row and went on to close the season on an even stronger note as the No. 60 Ford/Riley won the New Jersey Motorsports Park event before the sister No. 6 Ford/Riley scored its breakthrough win at Miller Motorsports Park.

For the 47th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley full-season drivers John Pew and Michael Valiante will be joined by experienced Michael Shank Racing pilot Ian James and NASCAR racer AJ Allmendinger.

No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley full-season drivers Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri will be joined by the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay and 2008 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year Colin Braun.

“I’m really excited about this lineup with the guys we have in both cars,” said Team owner Mike Shank. “We’ve always been fortunate to have a lot of interest from top drivers and this year was no different. Everyone involved with this effort has a great team attitude and knows what it’s going to take to win this race. We know how to finish this race and how to get on the podium here, but we’re 100% focused on getting to that top step.”

Despite having scored rookie accolades last season, both Hunter-Reay and Braun can boast extensive experience in Daytona Prototypes. Hunter-Reay drove to a convincing victory at Miller Motorsports Park in 2007, as Braun set a record as the category’s youngest winner with his victory in the Brumos 250 at Daytona at just 17 years old.

Allmendinger and James are also familiar faces around the Shank pits, with the 2009 Rolex event marking Allmendinger’s fourth consecutive start with the team as he looks to go one better over his 2006 Rolex 24 debut, which saw him score second overall with co-drivers Patterson, Negri, and Wilson.

James, who has won in every current category of Rolex Sports Car and KONI Sports Car Challenge competition, made his first Daytona Prototype start with Michael Shank Racing in 2007 and was part of the No. 6 breakthrough victory in the final race of the 2008 season.

All eight drivers were on hand for the “Roar Before the 24” testing at Daytona International Speedway, with both Michael Shank Racing Daytona Prototype machines showing impressive speed through the three-day test. The team will return to its 20,000 square foot shop in Pataskala for final preparations in advance of returning South for the Rolex 24, which is slated to take a green flag at 3:30 PM ET on January 24.

Mike Shank:
Team Owner, Nos. 6 and 60 Ford/Riley

“They are in my opinion the best Daytona Prototype drivers I can put in the car. Every single person in both these cars has experience in these cars, and can wheel them hard, but smartly, and get this race won somehow. Our pre-race preparation has to be spot on and that’s a big focus for us. We’re obviously working on the cars, but we’re also working behind the scenes to be as ready as possible if something happens. It’s important to be able to get the car back out within a yellow flag period. That can be key in this race.”

Mark Patterson:
No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley:

“Surrounded by drivers of this caliber, trying to drive at their speeds is a huge challenge and our job is to bring the car back in the same number of parts as it was given to us. We’re pretty confident that we can bring home a victory this year and we’re thrilled with this line up we have this year.”

Oswaldo Negri Jr.:
Driver, No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley:

“It was definitely big to win the pole last year and we worked very hard to do that. We will be working hard to do it again, but the main focus is definitely to win the race. The guys have worked really really hard and we’re very focused. This is such a tough race, but we feel like we have all the pieces in place to be there at the end once again.”

Colin Braun:
Driver, No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley:

“I’m excited to be here with Michael Shank Racing. I raced against them a bunch when I was driving for Krohn Racing and AIM last year and I’ve seen how strong their preparation is and how quick their cars can be. They’ve also had really good driver line-ups so I’m really excited to be a part of this team for the 24. I feel like we have a great shot at winning the race because this is a group of smart drivers and fast drivers. Mike Shank has put a great program together with these Ford motors and with the experience and speed that this line up has, hopefully we can make the most of this opportunity and looking forward to getting 2009 start off on the right foot here at the 24.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley:

“It’s great to be here with Michael Shank Racing. I raced against this team in Atlantics and they’ve always been tough, and especially now here in Daytona Prototypes, this program has been rising and rising. They won the last two races of the year last year and I think the next step is winning this race (Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

John Pew
Driver, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley

“I feel really fortunate to be able to do this and I’m really excited about the whole year and getting the season off to a good start in the 24. 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.”

Michael Valiante
Driver, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to run with Michael Shank Racing for the full season this year. When I was invited down for the test, everything went really well and I was very impressed with the team. It’s a really professional organization and I’m happy to be driving this car. I’m happy to be driving with John (Pew) and AJ and Ian as well. We were quick in the testing and then quick again here (at the Roar before the 24), so we’re getting off to a good start no question.”

Ian James
Driver No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley

“Michael Shank Racing is one of the best teams in this paddock so it’s great to be back with these guys for the 24. These guys are all my friends so it’s great to be back with friends, and we have a really solid shot of doing well. Obviously there is a lot of luck in this race, but we’ve just got to go out and try to be smart and do our best. We definitely have the speed and we definitely have the crew, so with a little bit of luck on our side this year we could go on and win it.”

AJ Allmendinger
Driver, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley

“I think Michael Shank is one of the most fun team owners to drive for and that’s part of why every year when he asks, I come back. It’s a lot of fun and he puts together a great team. All the guys that work for the team are pretty much the same guys every year so it’s a good group to be a part of. We’ve been close so many times that we just want to go out and get the job done. He’s put together a great group of drivers for both cars so I’m just looking forward to it.”

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