Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This Week In Ford Racing with Mike Shank...
Michael Shank, owner of Michael Shank Racing, is hoping to start the famed Rolex 24 at Daytona with both of his cars in the front row for the second consecutive year when the Grand-Am Rolex Series holds its season opener in Daytona, Fla., on January 24-25. Shank’s No. 6 Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype clocked the second quickest time during January Test Days, while his No. 60 Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype held the sixth quickest.
Michael Shank – owner, Michael Shank Racing – LAST SEASON, YOU WERE ABLE TO PLACE BOTH OF YOUR CARS IN THE FRONT ROW. IT’S VERY TOUGH, BUT DO THINK THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE A SHOT AT STARTING IN THE FRONT ROW AGAIN? “We, for sure, have a shot at doing it again this year, there’s no question about that. Both cars have really good speed. It’s just a little bit of a luck factor; everything aligning correctly like it did last year. What I mean by that is that nothing goes wrong in the practices leading up to it and the cars are pretty much unscathed heading into that 15-minute qualifying session. If that happens and the cars are unscathed and have no mechanical issues up to that point, there’s definitely an opportunity there for us to repeat that. The trick for this year is that there are five cars on top of ours that are much better than they were last year, so it’s going to be much closer at the top and there are more people that can take that away from us, for sure. We’ll see where that ultimately ends up, but I think we can start both cars around the top five, which is plenty for a 24-hour race. It would just kind of be cool to be able to that again.”
YOU ALWAYS HAVE A GOOD GROUP OF DRIVERS FOR THIS RACE. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING YOUR DRIVERS? “What I chose to do this year is really go after guys that are very good Daytona Prototype drivers with lots of experience. So instead of getting somebody like a Kyle Busch, who I had the opportunity to get, we went with guys whose names aren’t quite as big as that, but they are fantastic Daytona Prototype drivers. So we chose performance over press, I guess you could say, all in an effort to just win the thing because that would be the best press for us.”
NOW THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WITH FORD FOR A YEAR, WILL IT BE ANY EASIER AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS SEASON SINCE THERE ISN’T A LEARNING CURVE? “When we got to Daytona last year for the race, we were ready to win it. The No. 6 car was in a position to win it when a suspension part failed – nothing to do with the motor. The Ford Racing engineering guys have helped us a lot since then. That’s the biggest difference. The Ford Racing engineers have now had the opportunity to work with us for a year, so the engineering side of it is much more prepared than it was last year. So different systems and different strategies and all that has now been fully affected by the engineers up in Detroit.”
WHAT DO YOU WORRY ABOUT MOST GOING INTO A RACE LIKE THIS? “There are a couple of areas on the car that we worry about. The axle systems are always a worry for us. We think we are in pretty good shape there. We made a huge effort last year to get on top of that and we think we’re better now with that. I always worry about other people’s mistakes that can take us out, meaning a GT car or another DP car having an altercation and us not being able to avoid it. That’s another worry of mine. Those are the biggest ones.”