Disappointing Day for Michael Shank Racing at Mid-Ohio
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(Mansfield, OH) 20 June 2009-With two bullet-fast Ford-Riley combinations entered for the EMCO Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Michael Shank Racing was looking to shake the bad racing luck that has hounded the team on the home track in Rolex Sports Car Series competition on Saturday.

And after leading the time sheets in several of the test sessions over the two-day race weekend, the 300 friends, family, and guests from Westfield Insurance that were on hand to support the team were all looking forward to a strong outing. But unfortunately, the bad luck reared its head only moments after the start of the race as Mark Patterson was knocked off-course and into the gravel trap on the opening lap of the race.

"That was the least gentlemanly maneuver that I've seen, and I say that even though that driver is a friend of mine," said Patterson. "We were all sliding around on that first lap, and you had to be patient getting back to power. I was running with the Brumos car no problem, but then I just got hit from behind. He didn't hit me that hard, but it doesn't matter-it was hard enough to ruin our race. It was just not necessary, and not a thinking move. We are not angry at the driver as much as just upset about what this will do to us in the points.

"We've had the most unfortunate luck at Mid-Ohio, and its most disappointing for our friends at Westfield. We had a podium car this weekend and we'd have loved to have brought them up there with us, but it was just not meant to be today."

The sister No. 6 Ford-Riley of John Pew and Michael Valiante also had to overcome some challenges to make it to the finish, but with Pew getting a strong start and Valiante setting the fastest lap of the race, the two combined to take sixth at the checkered flag. Pew's race plan was changed when he had to make an extra pit stop early in the race after running in the top 6.

"I passed a GT car going into turn seven, but then he turned into me as I went by and that flattened the tire," said Pew. "Fortunately, the team saw that instantly on the telemetry and I was exactly where I needed to be to make pit lane when they radioed me to come in. The car was really hard to drive initially-not just for me, as I could see everyone sliding around before the tires got up to temperature. It took some time, but then they got better. Michael drove his heart out and its too bad we weren't able to stick to our original plan because we could have been back on the podium today, no question."
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