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Shank: Team “Fought So Hard” in Rebuild, Comeback Run

Michael Shank Racing fought through and up and down weekend at Sebring…

Photo: IMSA

Michael Shank says the seventh and eighth-place GT Daytona class finishes for its pair of Acura NSX GT3s in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring didn’t match the gargantuan effort his team put in over the weekend.

A heavy crash in practice for Justin Marks in the No. 93 entry on Thursday sent the team scrambling to rebuild the the car in time for the race.

Not only did it race, but the trio of Marks, Lawson Aschenbach, and Mario Farnbacher led for a point before fading to seventh, while the sister No. 86 Acura of Alvaro Parente, Katherine Legge, and Trent Hindman also ran towards the front into the evening.

Shank said the balance of the cars went off in the final hours, undermining what had the potential to be a storybook finish for the Ohio-based operation.

“We’ve never worked so hard for seventh and eighth place in our life,” Shank told Sportscar365. “It was a really bizarre deal.

“During the hot part of the day our cars just weren’t real happy and we kind of just ran where we ran. As the temperatures came down, closer to 4 or 5 p.m., our cars came alive. We did our fastest lap then.

“These guys fought so hard to keep the cars up where they were all day. If you do it in percentages, they were in the top four half of the race. I can’t ask for anything more than that.

“At the end of the day the cars were beat up and didn’t have the pace and we fell off at the end, and that’s unfortunate.

“We deserved a lot more and it’s tough to take that, but at the end of the day my guys performed at a level that was amazing to me. It blew me away.”

Shank said significant work remains to be done to comprehensively repair the damage from Thursday’s accident, which was triggered by brake failure.

“[The 93 car] came out and we were P1 in the warmup and then we led a bunch of laps and at one point with three hours to go I thought if this goes our way [we could win], but we just didn’t have the pace,” said Shank.

“We’ll put a new frame on the No. 93 and get it fixed. Everything from what you would call the firewall needs to be refixtured… and that’s what the Honda Performance Manufacturing Center where they build the NSX street car will do.

“It’s only an hour from my shop so that part is good.”

86 Car Unlikely Until Watkins Glen

Despite leaving Sebring as the higher placed of the two cars in the provisional points standings, Shank said the No. 86 entry was unlikely to be on the grid again until the next Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup race at Watkins Glen in July.

“Miracles happen and it’s all money and finances,” he said. “Unfortunately the 86 car is second or third in the championship right now so it’s a little hard to take but we’ll see what happens.

“You never know, I could be talking to you a week from now and telling you the opposite but you have to remember I have an IndyCar program.

“I set my year up to do one and a half [cars in IMSA], and the 86 car guys are also the IndyCar crew. I’d have to hire more people and on and on. We’ll see.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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