Pataskala, Ohio (20 January 2014) – Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian is packed and ready to go for the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The race marks the first-ever IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event as the next era in sportscar racing launches with the blue riband event at Daytona International Speedway.
The team won the race in 2012 and has finished on the podium four times since making its first start in the event in 2004. The 2014 driver line up is a familiar one, as full season pilots John Pew and Ozz Negri are joined by Justin Wilson and AJ Allmendinger. The lineup is the same as that which won in 2012.
The 2014 Rolex 24 is Michael Shank Racing’s 10th straight campaign in the event and the team will once again utilize Ford power. 2014 sees the Blue Oval put innovation on the track as a new EcoBoost motor will power the team. Michael Shank Racing already has written history with the powerplant, setting several records with EcoBoost power at Daytona International Speedway late last year.
“It is hard to believe that this is our 10th Rolex 24, and it is certainly going to be the biggest one yet,” said team owner Mike Shank. “This sport is ready to put on a great show for a huge audience and we are very excited for what is next with the United SportsCar Championship. There are so many unknowns with the new rules and all the new classes, it is little bit like the first time for us. But we’ve been preparing non-stop and are ready to put all of our preparation to work this weekend. We’ve got some incredible support from our commercial partners and this is the same driver line up that we won the race with so everyone is just chomping at the bit to get down there and get going.”
John Pew: “It was good to be back in the racecar with this Ford EcoBoost twin turbo at the Roar. The car was awesome; we are very close to where we need to be. We quit a little early to do a little extra work, but all four drivers feel good about the car. I can’t wait to come back for the 24.”
“It is nice going into a race with familiar people, a familiar team and teammates. We all gel really well so there are none of the problems that some other teams may experience, so that is nice. We are always hoping for a win, but this is going to be a tough one. It’s going to be a long 24 hours. There are lot of different classes this year and a lot of new drivers, so it is definitely going to be interesting. It’s going to be about reliability and lasting for 24 hours.”
Ozz Negri: “It’s always great to be back at Daytona and to be back with the team. We have incredible potential. We are working on a few items that need to be addressed and I’m really looking forward to coming back here for the race.”
“We are all such good friends on this team so that is a great part of this, it makes it fun. It’s fun being around these guys. We have been together for so long and it’s just like Thanksgiving day when everybody gets reunited. Just like AJ (Allmendinger) said, we don’t get to see each other much during the year, but it’s not quantity time it is quality time.”
Justin Wilson: “It’s great to get back in the car, this was the first time in about four months I think, so that is always good. The car feels good. I love the sound and the feel of the new Ford EcoBoost engine, it’s a lot of fun to drive. I’m just looking forward to the race now. We will get a few more miles in and we have a lot of work to do but everyone is working hard and it is fun to be a part of this group and be back here and hopefully we have a shot at getting another Rolex.”
“We are just trying to take it one step at a time, not looking too far ahead. We don’t have any preconceived ideas about the race and we are just taking it one step at a time. I would love for us to win it again but we have to make sure we do all of the right things and give ourselves a chance.”
AJ Allmendinger: “I love me some Shank, so it is always good to come back here. To be able to hang out with all of the guys, with Ozz and Justin and John and everyone else, it’s just a fun group so it makes coming to the racetrack fun even when you are having difficulties. I think the positives are that when we are running it is really fast and we will have the speed to go out there to compete.”
“I think this race is going to be one of the toughest ever, with four classes and around 70 cars. I think more than ever we are really going to have to be accurate and really cautiously aggressive because there are a lot of unknowns and it’s so easy to get caught up in something. We all have to be very smart about not making any mistakes. But I am looking forward to it.”
Photo credit: Michael Shank Racing / Sunday Group Management