Photo by John Thawley (Columbus, OH) --Michael Shank Racing will be back in action this weekend for round four of the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series season. The Columbus, Ohio-based team will look to once again score top tens with both Lexus-Riley entries and continue to move up in the championship standings. The 400k/77 lap event will be the first of the season set as a Daytona Prototype-only race, which should bring a new dynamic to race strategy on the 3.27-mile natural terrain road course near Alton, Virginia.
Mark Patterson, who is locked in a battle with Tracy Krohn for the Trueman Award crown that he won last season, will once again team with Oswaldo Negri in the No. 60 Lexus/Riley combination as the two look to break into the top ten in the Rolex championship standings. The 2006 season-finale race winners are eleventh in the championship entering the VIR round, one point out of the top ten.
Henri Zogaib, who co-drives with Ian James in the No. 6 entry, which has led in two of the first three races of the season, will be unable to participate in the VIR weekend due to pressing business commitments.
Racing in his stead will be Burt Frisselle, who raced with the team in 2004 and made two starts with the team in 2006. Frisselle has been competing with AIM Autosport in another Lexus-Riley combination this season, and is looking forward to stepping in for Zogaib this weekend.
"I am really glad to get the call from Mike for this weekend," said Frisselle. "I have a long history with the team and a great relationship with them so it should be very easy to just get in the car and get things rolling. I want to thank Mike and Henri for giving me this chance, as I think Shank and his guys are among the cream of the crop in this series and it's just a great opportunity for me."
The VIR weekend marks a return to a natural terrain road course for the Rolex Series after two races on oval-based circuits in the first three rounds. The 3.27-mile VIR track has a little bit of everything, from the ultra-slow Oak Tree corner to the long fast sweepers on the back stretch, all of which tend to produce smiles out of the drivers once the helmets come off.
Grand-Am has modified the rules for the Rolex Series, which will require that teams take a pit stop before the forty-five minute mark elapses.
"It is a proper road course for us and last year it made for a great race for the fans," said Negri. "Our cars have been great right off the trailer all year, so we are looking forward to another competitive weekend and we think we should be in good shape. It will be interesting to see how teams approach the new rules with the pit stop, but (MSR Technical Director) Dale (Wise) and (Engineer) Dave (Kanning) are some of this team's secret weapons, so hopefully we can get a good run down in Virginia this weekend."