Michael Shank Racing hit problems in the Miami rains (Photo Credit: Grand-Am)

Michael Shank Racing hit problems in the Miami rains (Photo Credit: Grand-Am)

The Michael Shank Racing crew left the Grand Prix of Miami divided by the Grand-Am officials' call to end the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway early due to torrential rain.

After qualifying was rained out – handing the Rolex 24 winning crew and driver John Pew the second starting spot based on championship points – the race started under yellow due to the appalling conditions before they race was finally allowed to start.

“It was utterly terrible out there,” said Pew after the race. “For me visibility was the biggest problem. We had fogging on the windshield. It started to fog up when I was sitting waiting to go out for the start with the engine and everything off. Visibility was a huge issue. Going into the banking you couldn't see anything – you were just doing it by feel!”

The lack of visibility eventually caught Pew out as he misjudged his braking for turn one and opted to run wide. “I just went long into Turn 1,” he said. “I had to look to the side to see the brake zone and it was too late so it was either try to make it and possibly spin the car and cause some damage or go long so I elected to go long.”

After a pitstop Brazilian Ozz Negri took to the track, tasked with making up the lap lost to the leaders in the Daytona Prototype class. Running the fastest laps at the time Negri battled his way from 23rd overall – deep in the GT ranks.

“I was pushing very hard – as hard as I could,” said Negri. “It was the least I could do with all the effort that the team has put forth. We had a fantastic car in the dry. I really think we could have fought for a podium finish if we had raced in the dry. And I think we had one of the best cars – if not the best car- in the wet. I was able to pass most of the field and chew quite a bit of the gap between me and the leader. We tried everything strategy-wise to make up that lap and to be able to compete against some of the guys in front of us because I knew we were quicker.”

However, the team's and Negri's progress was halted by a red flag when the rain worsened again, the result called with 45 minutes of the two-hour, 45-minute race left to run. Negri afterwards described how he was “looking forward to a restart” in the team's Ford-Riley.

“I don't think it was a bad performance day for us so I'm happy about that,” said team owner Michael Shank after the 19th place finish “Ozz had a great stint and made a bunch of time up to the leader. He did a great job. We knew that everyone ahead of us had to pit so we  would have been in a much better position if the race had played out, but I don't have any problem with the call that Grand-Am made today. Obviously it would have been better for us, but sometimes it just doesn't work out with strategy.

After his earlier off Pew disagreed; “ending the race early kind of makes me angry because we came here to race and we were racing in similar conditions earlier so I'm not sure why they called it. We made a strategy call based on the race going the full distance.”

Despite the lowly finish the pair maintain their second place in the points' standings though they are now joint with Spirit of Daytona drivers Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia.