Michael Shank Racing turned some heads again over the weekend in the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" at Daytona International Speedway.
The twin Daytona Prototypes, which will have co-drivers from the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights in the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona later this month, were first- and third-quickest through three days of testing on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn course.
Michael Valiante turned in the fastest lap in the No. 6 entry, in which he'll join Gustavo Yacaman, Jorge Goncalves and Chris Cumming behind the wheel for the race. The defending race champion No. 60 Michael Shank Racing car was third-quick over the weekend, with Justin Wilson joining AJ Allmendinger, John Pew and Marcos Ambrose at the test.
“I’m very proud of this driver lineup and I think we have another good opportunity to do well - with both of these cars,” team owner Michael Shank said. “We’ll just focus on the same things that were successful for us last year. I want to win every year. To repeat would be an oddity because I think it would be very difficult to do but we have very strong cars."
The No. 42 Team Sahlen's entry, co-driven by IZOD IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Simon Pagenaud and Bruno Junqueira, had the second-fastest overall time.
Teams were faced with a variety of weather conditions, which four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti said helped teams better prepare for the endurance race.
“I do expect it to be warmer when we come back for the race itself,” said Franchitti, who will co-rive the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona Prototype with Scott Dixon, Jamie McMurray and Joey Hand. “It’s always good to get some running in the rain. All different conditions help because it just gives you more experience of the conditions you could experience in the 24 hours.”
The No. 02 entry was fifth overall, while the companion car with Charlie Kimball among the team members was fourth. It was the first seat time in a Daytona Prototype for Kimball, who drives the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“This has really been a great experience. Chip has put together a great group of individuals from three different series and I’m learning a lot from all of them," Kimball said. "I’ve gotten quite a bit of time in the car and I’ve had to get used to a lot of things; like getting use to a roof, driving at a new track and even driving at night. I haven’t driven at night since my go-karting days. I’m really looking forward to being a part of and contributing to the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”