A lack of caution periods upset a good looking weekend for Michael Shank Racing, as podium potential dropped to a fifth and eighth place finishes for the team.
Gustavo Yacaman started the two-hour race, the shortest on the Rolex Series calendar, from the third row in the #6 Ford-Riley, and opted to pit during the only caution of the race, coming in just 18 minutes in to the race.
Yacaman managed to move back up the field to sixth place before coming in just over the halfway stage to hand the machine over to Antonio Pizzonia. Pizzonia was running the same pace as the leaders, but a lack of caution periods meant that he could only manage to finish the race in fifth.
“This race ended up being all about fuel mileage.” explained Yacaman. “It was amazing how the 90 car was able to do a two-stop race into one. But on we go to Road Atlanta. I don’t think they will have this [fuel mileage] advantage at the longer races. I think it’s going to be a little bit different so we’ll see what happens.”
The #60 Ford-Riley started the race from the back of the grid after not being able to set a time in qualifying, with John Pew starting the race behind the wheel. Pew managed to get up into the top ten before the caution flew, eventually moving up to fifth while other cars pitted.
Pew handed the car over to Michael Valiante with just over 30 minutes of the race completed, rejoining the circuit in 12th position. The pace of Valiante was very strong, lapping as fast as the top runners and managing to hold third place before having to stop for their second green flag visit to pit lane due to the lack of cautions.
Valiante returned to the track in 11th place before a strong run in his final stint saw him take eighth place at the finish line.
“We had to run two different pit strategies in this case because one car started at the back and the other started in the middle,” said team owner Mike Shank. “So we worked two different strategies today. At the end of the day, the cars had good speed, but we just didn’t get the fuel mileage we needed. Everyone did a good job, we did what we had to do, we just couldn’t get any traction. We were the fastest Ford, but of course we were hoping for a little bit more today. We didn’t see the yellows that we’ve come to expect so it didn’t play out for us. But we got the most out of it that we could today and we’ll move on to Road Atlanta.”