Tuesday, January 12, 2010

AJ in the Rolex 24 at Daytona for MSR

Michael Shank Racing Announces Rolex 24 At Daytona Drivers

Hard on the heels of Michael Shank Racing’s announcement that Crown Royal Extra Rare has signed on to sponsor the No. 60 Ford-Riley, the team presented the full driver line-up for the organization’s two-car 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona campaign during the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Full-season Michael Shank Racing drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew will be joined in the No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley by Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins in the season-opening race, as the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley will see Mark Patterson team with Michael Valiante, AJ Allmendinger, and Brian Frisselle.

Ever since making it to the race finish in the team’s 2004 debut in the race, Michael Shank Racing has repeatedly shown strength in the Rolex Series season kick-off endurance format, finishing runner-up in the 2006 Rolex 24 and threatening for a race win late in the event again in 2008.

Seven of the eight drivers have previous race starts with Michael Shank Racing, something that team owner Mike Shank carefully considered as he assembled his team.

“We have had a lot of very strong driver line-ups for this event in the past, and I’m as confident in this group that we have this year as I’ve been for any we’ve had before,” said Shank. “Every one of these guys has a lot of Daytona Prototype experience, and a lot of miles at this track. To be successful in the 24, and to even make it to the finish of this race, takes speed, smarts, and a lot of experience. You have to make the right decisions, every minute of the way for 24 hours. With the guys we have in both cars, we have the right mix to make sure we are there at the finish and in position to fight for a podium on Sunday afternoon.”


Driver Quotes:

Ozz Negri, No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver
Like Mike (Shank) said, it’s great to have guys with so much Daytona Prototype experience in our line-up. Everyone gets along, we are similarly sized, so we don’t need inserts, and I think we have a very strong line up. This is a magical race, one that everyone wants to win-not for the watch, but to win. Hopefully we can work enough to get it this time.

(about driving with John Pew in 2010)

“It’s strange because I’ve worked with Mark Patterson so long and we have a great relationship. So it was odd in the test in December to see Mark getting out of the other car! But its Im looking forward to working with John- we’ve known each other for such a long time, karting together and working together. So I am really looking forward to this year, especially to have Crown Royal Extra Rare in the car, it’s very motivating to have them with us.”

John Pew No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver
“It’s great to try to fill Marks place! It’s going to be difficult, but I’m going to try my best, knowing Ozz and Mark for a long time and seeing how they worked together, I’m looking forward to stepping up my game even further this year. I’m proud and humbled to have such a great brand like Crown Royal Extra Rare with us this year on the car. I know Ozz said its not about the watch, but I want one!”

Mark Wilkins, No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver
“I have to thank Mike Shank—this is a fantastic team, one that I grew up watching when he ran Ken Wilden in Atlantics when I was just a kid and they had so much success. It is a real pleasure to be here with these co drivers, to be the new guy here. Everyone is great, you just slot into the car, do your job and get going. It’s a great environment for the drivers and I think we have a great shot at it this year.”

Burt Frisselle No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare Ford-Riley driver
“The relationship with Michael Shank Racing and AIM Autosport has always been a strong one, we’ve been able to share information and work together so this is great.

For me, this is a kind of second home. I love racing for this team. It also is a great way for Mark and I to get excited about racing with AIM again at Homestead so hopefully we can start the season off strong here and try to help get Ford a Championship at the end of the season.”

Mark Patterson, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
“This is a great line up, with both these cars. If we get to the podium, I have no objection to what position where they are behind us! We’ve raced against each other in several different series--None of us is a stranger—I met Ozz through John, so we all work well together. Having worked with Ozz these last few years I will tell you-watch out for John Pew this year!”

AJ Allmendinger No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
“I love coming back and racing for Mike-he’s one of those real racers and his team is great. You can see the passion he has for it in how his team executes. I am excited for him for this team and the line up that he has for the full season I think they are going to be really strong all year long.

“We finished second in this race the first year, and we’ve had the opportunity to win it every year since. I see both cars contending for victory, and hopefully the six car can do that. It’s exciting for me to be with Ford here in the Daytona Prototypes because now I’m with them in Cup so I hope to start the year off well for them and score well here in the 24.

Brian Frisselle, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
“I’m really excited to work with Michael, I think everyone made notice of the fact that he was on the top of the sheets all year long last year. He’s obviously very talented and I think the two of us together can hopefully be strong in the championship.

Michael Valiante, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
It’s great to be back and to be representing Michael Shank Racing again. Both cars have two driver lines up a capable of winning the race, our car was winning the race until we had an engine issue last year. Fortunately, that’s been resolved and this team prepares a fantastic car. Like Brian said, we have a very strong pairing for the full season as well. We have a lot in common. We both were co-drivers with Max Angelelli so we got off to a good start right there trading some stories!”

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