Michael Shank Racing finished Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in third, after strong stints from John Pew and Ozz Negri Jr.
Pew started the race in the #60 Honda HPD Ligier JS P2 from the 2nd row after delivering his best ever qualifying performance. Despite slipping back through the field slightly at the start of the race, he made quick work getting back up the field and remained in the top 5 all throughout his stint.
The caution period 30 minutes into the race allowed the team to make a driver change, as well as refuel and swap tyres.
With Negri in the car, the #60 was hit by the #31 Corvette DP on turn one at the restart, forcing the Ligier to run wide. The contact had bent the steering column and so the car’s handling wasn’t as the team would have wanted for the remainder of the race. Despite this, Negri still managed to set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:19.303.
Negri pushed the Ligier up to third position but he couldn’t move any further up the field, as there were no more caution periods. He took the final podium postion for Michael Shank Racing at the finish line, behind the #90 and #10 Corvette DPs.
“It’s a fantastic result today,” said John Pew. “I don’t think we quite had the pace that we had in practice and qualifying because the track was a little bit different. And traffic was a real issue – when you got behind a big group you lost quite a bit of time.
“It’s a good result, it was the best we could have done with the circumstances presented,” said Negri. “I got hit on the restart and bent the steering arm so the car was not perfect. At the end of the day it’s a podium and we keep chipping away and one day we’re going to make it happen. The team did a brilliant job this weekend. We led all of the practice sessions and had the fastest race lap. It took a while for me to pass Dane (Cameron) and Joao (Barbosa) – especially Dane – he was pretty aggressive. I knew I had a better car and I just picked my time to pass them.
The next round of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship for Michael Shank Racing will be on May 29/30, for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at The Raceway at Belle Isle in Detroit, MI.