As Michael Shank Racing prepares to race two Daytona Prototype entries for just the second time since joining the Rolex Sports Car Series last season, the team is looking forward to this weekend's Emco Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The race weekend is poised to be a special one, as the team was formed around the championship-winning driving efforts of a young Mike Shank at Mid-Ohio, and his bespoke team considers the track its 'home' event.

Full-season drivers Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski will be racing in the familiar Mears Motor Coach machine, which has scored two podiums thus far this season and is looking to keep its string of top-ten finishes going and move up in the team championship standings.

After making a splash in their debut earlier this year with a record-setting run to the pole and backing that up with a strong run to ninth in the race, Oswaldo Negri will partner with Mark Patterson once again for the second Michael Shank Racing entry with a Lexus powering the new Riley chassis. Flight Options, a leading provider of fractional shares in business aircraft and an affiliate of Raytheon Company with over 200 aircraft, will adorn the #60 car as a primary sponsor.

Negri, who was selected as last season's "Rising Star" for his efforts with Michael Shank Racing, was reminded during the recent shakedown of why he loves racing with the team.

"Anytime I get in the car with this team, its such a pleasure," said Negri. "Everybody-everybody on this team has their act together, and it really motivates me as a driver to work even harder because the effort and preparation that Mike and his guys put into these cars is just amazing. Things went well in the test, and we just want to build our speed and get a good result this weekend."

The effort to grow the team and properly take on this challenge has been significant, but team owner Mike Shank will quickly smile as he relishes the chance for double success on his home track.

"This is a big event for us," smiled Shank. "It's been an unbelievable amount of work to have everything ready, but we are, and everyone is just focused on having a good weekend. We had a good test with Oz and Mark to just shake the car down, and everybody has been working late at the shop to make sure everything is inch-perfect, whether its how the new pit equipment is set up or getting our second pit crew working seamlessly in the pit stop practice."

As part of the team's expansion, an old friend has rejoined the fold, as Don Hutchings will oversee the second car. Hutchings worked with Michael Shank Racing in Atlantic competition, and had joined the Rahal Atlantic effort as crew chief for Danica Patrick in 2003, and continued to work with her as she made the move up to the Indy Racing League.



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