Michael Shank open to future full-time expansion into IndyCar

Michael Shank (centre) could expand his operation into IndyCar in the future - Credit: Jim Haines / IndyCar

Michael Shank has one eye on expanding his team into the Verizon IndyCar Series, and feels that the strong results they have had in other series could translate into a strong outfit in single seaters.

The team boss of Michael Shank Racing is making his first appearance at the Indianapolis 500 in 2017 in conjunction with Andretti Autosport, where they will field British racer Jack Harvey, and he feels the team could be strong in both IndyCar and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship concurrently.

“I am absolutely working to see that happening,” said Shank to RACER. “Here’s what’s most important, and it’s one of the reasons I am doing this: I want to show the world that we can run and win the Rolex 24, we can run the Le Mans 24 and do well, which we did, and we can run the Indy 500 as a group and do well, which we will.

“And we can run a GT car like with do with Acura and Honda Performance Development with the NSX GT3.

“We can do prototypes, we can do GTs, and we can do IndyCar at a high, high level. And this partnership with Michael Andretti for the 500 is the final link to showing people we are capable of being strong in at least two series at once.”

Shank says that talks have already taken place with Michael Andretti about possibly extending their partnership beyond this years’ Indy 500, something that he has been looking in doing for a number of years.

“We have already talked about that,” Shank said. “The Andretti team has already talked to me about it and I think that is very possibly happening.

“From my side, I’m very open to it. I suggested that let’s just all work together, let’s put a race in the books and then we will sit down in in June and we can really start putting something down. So far in our interaction with Andretti, it has been just perfect.”

The one thing Shank does not envisage happening is him leaving sports car racing, and any IndyCar project will only be as an addition to his current outfit.  Shank would also welcome a continuation of the partnership with Andretti Autosport into further Indy 500 outings.

“Doing the Indy 500 every year in a relationship that Andretti, if it took the burden off of them and they see value, then I’m really open to that because I love the race,” said Shank. “And maybe there’s something that makes a lot of sense there going forward that we handle a fourth, fifth or sixth car for them or something like that.

“So that’s a possibility. I’m leaving everything wide open here in that regard and we know we want to be in IndyCar one way or the other.

“We are absolutely going to stay in sports cars; I’m not leaving as long as I’m racing.  It is our backbone and it will always be that. IndyCar, if the right deal comes along and we can work it out, we’d be all over it as a separate program, but it wouldn’t replace a sports car deal.”