Michael Shank: “I think we have a real shot”

Michael Shank is confident that his eponymous team can win this weekend’s Daytona 24 Hours after a strong qualifying session on Thursday.

The #60 Ligier JS P2-HPD bearing Shank’s name will start third on the grid after a bold display by driver Oswaldo Negri Jr in extremely wet conditions.

“We had a good solid start,” said Shank. “For sure we could take more chances if we wanted to but the number one thing we didn’t want to do is take any more chances than we already have.”

Negri’s fastest lap of 2:07.432s was enough to put the #60 car in the top three prototypes, finishing 1.7 seconds down on pole-sitter Mikhail Aleshin in the SMP Racing BR01.

The Brazilian driver set his flying lap early in the 15 minute session, and with a good time already in the books he decided to pit the car in order to minimise the risk of damage before raceday.

“I’m happy with the decision that Ozz (Negri) made to pit a bit early,” commented Shank. “I would have loved to be on the pole. We’ve done it here a couple times, but it wasn’t meant to be today with the conditions and everything.”

“I’m super confident with where our car is. I think we have a real shot at it. Tomorrow resets everything with sunshine. I’m just happy to get through it in one piece. Right now we’ve got to get the car dried and blown out and ready for the race.”

Michael Shank Racing joined 19 other teams in skipping the third practice session which took place immediately after qualifying on Thursday. The team, featuring Negri Jr, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger and Olivier Pla, will be back on track today (Friday, January 29) for the final free practice session before the 2016 Daytona 24 Hours, which begins on Saturday at 14:40 ET.