Daytona Beach, Fla. – Pataskala-based Michael Shank Racing delivered an impressive performance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona as the team debuted its brand new Acura NSX GT3 machines at Daytona International Speedway over the weekend (Jan. 28-29). Both cars led laps in a race that saw long periods of rain and cold temperatures which made track conditions challenging throughout much of the 24-hour endurance classic.
The No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 of Jeff Segal, Ozz Negri, Tom Dyer, and Ryan Hunter-Reay took a fifth-place finish after 634 laps of racing in the car’s debut. The No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 driven by Andy Lally, Katherine Legge, Mark Wilkins, and New Albany’s Graham Rahal looked poised for a podium finish in the final stages of the 24-hour race, only to suffer a setback in the final 20 minutes that kept the car from taking the checkered flag on track.
The No. 93 was credited with an 11th place result.
The Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup is a championship within a championship with rounds held at each of the four endurance events on the IMSA calendar (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Petit Le Mans). Points are distributed based on track position during designated segments of each race. For the Rolex 24 At Daytona, points are allocated at the six, 12-hour, 18-hour and 24-hour marks. Michael Shank Racing’s consistently strong performance through the wide range of weather conditions saw the team emerge from the opening round of the championship with a victory in its first GTD class start.
Perfect pit stops by the Michael Shank Racing crew members on each car saw both Acura NSX GT3s gain track position and move up the order as the team lead laps and ran among the top five through most of the race.
“This program has not been in Michael Shank Racing’s hands – working with HPD on this new NSX program – for very long,” said Team Manager, Tim Keene, who serves as strategist on the No. 86. “I couldn’t be more proud – it wasn’t a race win, but it felt like it. I’m so proud of everyone and how hard they worked to get here. If people could see all the work that went into this, they wouldn’t believe it. These Michael Shank Racing guys have been busting their butts and it’s incredible. To finish seven seconds off the lead in your very first race – and a 24 hour race no less – it just blows me away. I’m just so proud of these guys.”
Contact with a prototype around 6 a.m. eventually caused a vibration that contributed to the hood of the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 coming loose with less than an hour remaining. Without the hood, the airflow was disrupted which resulted in an overheated gearbox, forcing the car to take to pit lane in the closing moments of the event.
Despite that late race issue, the Michael Shank Racing team executed when it needed to and team owner Mike Shank was pleased with his organization’s efforts.
“The key to this result was constantly digging and never stopping – with a plan,” said Shank, who called strategy for the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3. “Having a plan helped us a lot here. We talked a lot about the things that could happen in this race and we were ready for them.
“I’m so pleased to execute on those plans and be able to have this kind of debut for the NSX. On top of that, all of our guys on the pit lane were just awesome. Every time we went into the pit box, we came out in better position than we were when we went in. I’m thankful, but I’m disappointed because both of our cars should have been in the top-five with no problem. But all in all it was just a great debut and I couldn’t be happier for the team, Acura, and HPD. This feels very good and we’re looking forward to a great year ahead.”
Michael Shank Racing will look to extend its lead in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup championship when the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship travels to Sebring International Raceway in March for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Information for this story was provided by Michael Shank Racing.