NAEC Leaders Michael Shank Racing Start Watkins Glen Race From Eighth

Rolex 24 winners MSR lead the North American Endurance Championship (Photo Credit: Grand-Am)

Though John Pew posted his best time of the weekend he could only qualify Michael Shank Racing's Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype eighth fastest as the team try to defend the North American Endurance Championship (NAEC) lead in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

Shank's team hold the lead of the three race 'championship in a championship' after taking their maiden win the Rolex Series' Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

Pew, who shares the #60 with Ozz Negri set a best time of 1:42.753 around the 3.4 mile Watkins Glen International circuit, which was good enough for eighth best in the 11 car Daytona Prototype class that will contend for the overall win in the Rolex Series' traditional summer centerpiece.

“I hoped for a little higher spot on the grid, but everybody else is really fast too,” said Pew. “We made progress with the car and with myself as well. That was the fastest lap I've turned this weekend so far. I think we'll have a really good car at the end of the race, and that's what counts.”

Team owner Shank was happy with the grid slot and with Pew's performance as the driver seeks his third Rolex Series Pro-Am title.

“I'm really happy – this is so much work that John puts in and even though it's P8, a lot of the top drivers are in the cars and he still did really, really well,” he said. “I'm just really happy for his progression and what he's doing. He deserves it. His qualifying time was almost two seconds faster than his best time in practice. The car is really good, and I think we potentially have a pretty good opportunity here this weekend.”

A strong result at Watkins Glen will set the team up well for the NAEC finale at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where one team will be collecting the first championship silverware of the year.