Michael Shank Racing finished the Montreal 200 in ninth position after John Pew and Ozz Negri teamed in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford-Riley as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series staged the penultimate round of the 2011 championship on the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
Pew opened the race from ninth on the grid, looking to make the most of an inside line through the tricky turn 1-2 complex on the opening lap. But before he could do that, the No. 60 machine was temporarily motionless just moments after the green flag as the shifter had misengaged and left the machine without drive. While it was just a short moment of slowed motion, the close competition level in the Rolex Series meant that the entire field had quickly eclipsed the machine.
Now looking to make up lost track position, Pew fought his way through the pace-hindering GT traffic before moving back into Daytona Prototype contention in the two-hour sprint race.
"I'm not sure what happened exactly, but it was certainly very frustrating," said Pew after his stint. "There was nothing I could do but just put my head down and try to make up as much ground as I could before turning it over to Ozz. Unfortunately, we just suffered from a lack of grip so didn't have the pace that we needed to really be a threat today. It's too bad, but now I'll look forward to Mid-Ohio, it's a track I have a lot of laps on and we tested there recently as well so we'll be hoping to bring Mike (Shank) a big result at his home track."
For the second consecutive Rolex Series race, the event unfolded at a furious pace, with the race not slowed by caution until the 65th lap.
"It was hard because I had the same issues with grip and keeping the tire under the car that John did and without a yellow to make up the track position, it just was a matter of taking care of the car and bringing it home," said Negri. "It is a shame because this is a great event and a wonderful city, so you are always optimistic about having a strong result here. We just had to race smart with what we had, and now we'll just keep training and look ahead to Mid-Ohio."
Michael Shank Racing has a long history at the 2.709-mile temporary circuit, but the 2011 race will not be remembered as a feature highlight.
"We lost a lot of ground right there at the start and without having any yellows, we just didn't have the pace to make it up today," said team owner Mike Shank. "Our stops were good and John and Ozz made the most of what we had. It's not what we wanted, but we'll just focus ahead to Mid-Ohio, with a strong two-car effort to close the year out right."