Mike Shank said the achievement of his team to recover from the loss of seven laps early in the Rolex 24 to finish third gave him more pride than their victory last year. A problem which caused left from toe link to replaced and a fuel pressure issue later on left them some six laps adrift at half distance but a storming fightback from Ozz Negri, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, and Justin Wilson saw them lead the race with 665 laps down.
In the end, Allmendinger couldn’t hold off the no.1 Chip Ganassi BMW due to its superior straight-line speed and contact with Joao Barbosa in the no.9 Corvette ultimately cost them second to Velocity Worldwide’s no.10 Dallara DP. Despite a potential win slipping away, Shank couldn’t be disappointed given the adversity his team faced earlier in the race and paid tribute to their resilience.
“I’m happy on the one hand that the 60 car came from essentially nine total laps down. We led the thing after being super aggressive. Everybody worked their butt off. I couldn’t be more happy about it. Thank you to Ford Racing – Jamie Allison here, Mr Raj Nair (Ford Vice President for Global Product Development) here today. It was great. Looking forward to next year and still want to win. I’m literally more proud of the group today [than last year] because this was incredibly stressful and incredibly hard, so I’m grateful that they all hung in.”
Allmendinger and Pew also praised the mechanics for turning the car around so quickly and is already setting his sights on the top step of the Daytona podium in 2014.
“It’s really those guys over there”, commented Allmendinger, motioning to the crew. “It’s those guys who bust their butt. They had so much work to do, and they did it in so little time and all my teammates—John, Ozz, Justin and then Marcos put a great stint in right before I got in, Justin, as always, is spot on, so it’s always a pleasure to race with these guys, and race with this team, and we’ll come back and do it again and win this thing next year.”
“At five o’clock yesterday afternoon, I wouldn’t have dreamed to be on my way to the podium right now,” added Pew. “But I know the Shank guys, I know they don’t give up, and I’m not surprised. Nobody gave up, nobody put their heads down, everybody worked as hard as they could. You never know how it’s going to happen in the end, and I’m really happy with the podium. I’m just so fortunate to have met all these guys in the Shank team, and Ozz, and AJ, Justin, and Marcos. I’m very fortunate for how this all came together.”
The achievement was all the more significant for Negri who had broken his ankle in a pre-season testing accident. The Brazilian admitted his participation was in serious doubt just days before the race and is overjoyed not just to have finished, but stood on the podium.
“To me it was just amazing to be able to be here. A week ago, I didn’t know if I’d even be able to race. I had a broken foot, and I got my stint in and to find myself on the podium—it just tells you what this team is built with. Ford, Justin Wilson, Ambrose, AJ, John Pew, Mike Shank Racing crew, Continental Tires. I’m very proud. We never give up. It’s just a good momentum. You know, Daytona’s been good to us. This is the third time I’ve been on the podium with AJ and Justin racing together. Now having Marcos, and the second time with John, it’s a blast. Those guys are awesome. I’m just very thankful.”