Michael Shank has commented on how “satisfying” it feels to finally have his own entry ready to race in the upcoming 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. Shank will field British driver Jack Harvey in six races of the seventeen round calendar this year whilst receiving assistance from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports through a new technical affiliation.
Shank has endured a long wait prior to finally getting his own car on the race track. He was one of the first team owners to purchase the Dallara DW12 chassis when it became available prior to the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series, but several hurdles have prevented him from making it to the race track.
In 2012, his plan had been to run Jay Howard in that year’s Indianapolis 500, but that fell through due to engine lease problems. The next year, Michael Shank Racing announced that they had sold their chassis to Sam Schmidt and that they would not be partnering with another team to run at Indianapolis.
Shank made a step closer to running his own car in the Verizon IndyCar Series when he partnered with Andretti Autosport to run Jack Harvey in the 2017 Indianapolis 500. Sadly, Harvey would fail to finish the race due to contact early in the race, but this year, both Harvey and Shank will get another shot.
For the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, Shank announced that he would be entering his own car for six races of the season. Whilst he will receive technical assistance from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the entry will largely be of his own doing. After such a long wait, Shank commented in an interview with RACER that finally getting his own car out on track was “surreal”.
“At last, we’re going testing with a car of our own!” Shank said. “It’s a very surreal thing to see it on the setup pad here in Sebring. We had the false start in 2012, but that’s finally getting buried in the past. This is pretty satisfying.”
“They [Schmidt Peterson Motorsports] helped and it was both of our sets of guys working together on it,” Shank continued. “Instead of doing it on our own, we had an immediate reference on the build to get the car up and going since the SPM guys have already been out for multiple tests with the ’18 spec.”
Michael Shank Racing will make their debut in a year where IndyCar undergoes one of it’s largest car design changes of recent years. The 2018 cars feature a new universal body kit design which has a lot less downforce compared to the last few seasons. Seasoned teams and drivers are having to spend much of pre-season testing getting used to the new package.
Needless to say, the change adds another challenge for Shank’s squad. The team will be in action at the upcoming group pre-season test at Sebring International Raceway. Following the two day test, the team will stay in Florida to conduct another test in the week leading up to the season-opener in St. Petersburg.
“It’s tricky with Dallara delivering the new bodywork because everybody is needing stuff; we’re still borrowing a few parts and pieces to go run, and there are no spare front wings, so we’re just going to be smart about it,” Shank told RACER.
“We’re going to do both days, then stay down here and do the following Tuesday – race week at St. Pete – to do ins and outs, pit stops, and really get ourselves prepped for going over the wall and maximizing Jack’s part leaving and hitting the pits. It’s all my guys from IMSA crewing the car, but a lot of them come from IndyCar so it shouldn’t be a total surprise.”
“We have five days budgeted for testing and we’re going to burn three right now because it’s that important to debug and get ourselves as ready as possible.”
“I’m cautiously optimistic about what all we can achieve together,” Shank added, “And I’m trying to be realistic with our goals. All I’ve asked my guys is to improve every time the car rolls out of the trailer. If we can do that, which I know we can, we’ll be in good shape.”
The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series kicks off on March 11 with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Michael Shank Racing will be in action with their driver Jack Harvey as they kick off their first of six races this year. They will also race at Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500, Mid-Ohio, Portland and the season-finale at Sonoma.