Michael Shank Racing took pole position for the 2015 Rolex 24 hours of Daytona, the opening round of the IMSA Tudor United SportsCars Championship, with Oswaldo Negri Jr setting the best time of the session for him and his team-mates John Pew, AJ Allmendinger and Matt McMurry.
Talking about his session, Negri Jr, a former pole sitter and winner of the 24 hours of Daytona, took the knowledge his team had learned from the previous sessions to good use, although he almost lost it over a curb.
“We did our homework, we were not the fastest here at the Roar (test days),” said Negri Jr. “But we worked very hard in the short amount of time that we had.
“I knew from the previous session that the tires would be at their peak on Lap 4 or 5. I was just going for it and rode way too much speed into the bus stop and changed direction pretty good.
“I went on the throttle at once and the car hit the curb a little too hard on the inside and just started a tank-slapper and I’m going toward the outside wall and I thought ‘(Mike) Shank won’t like this!’ That lap was perfect up until that point when I got a little bit too greedy.”
Negri Jr wants to add to his one previous victory on Sunday, and insists the team have not stopped working to maximise their chances, continually looking at data and ways to improve.
“It’s the second time on pole here for us, and now we need a second Rolex watch to look cool with it!” continued Negri. “We’ve won the race once. We know how to win it. We may look good and we may look strong but we never stop working.
“Five minutes before qualifying I was looking at video, looking at data, working with my team-mates, my engineers, and it paid off. It wasn’t easy. I pushed as hard as I could. I knew the Daytona Prototype with the cooler weather would come back to us so it took every little bit of my effort and the effort of the whole team.”
Team Manager Michael Shank was happy to see his car sitting on the pole, but knew the hard work was yet to come as he looks to convert that top spot into victory on Sunday.
“This is all a testament to the partnerships that we have with Tire Kingdom, Curb, Onroak, and Honda, all the incredible work this team has put in, and of course another awesome job from Ozz (Negri),” said Shank. “It was very, very, close with the times but as the Continental Tires kept warming up, we kept picking up speed.
“This is a great way to kick off the Tire Kingdom partnership but we didn’t come here to qualify well. It’s always good to be starting up front, but we are very focused on what we want to do in the race.”