Michael Shank Racing’s second Acura NSX GT3 could contest additional IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races beyond its confirmed Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup program, according to team boss Mike Shank.
The Ohio-based squad, which has returned to the GT Daytona class this year, so far has only its No. 93 Acura of Lawson Aschenbach and Justin Marks confirmed for the full season.
Its No. 86 entry, featuring Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente, Trent Hindman and AJ Allmendinger for the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, is currently set for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans.
However, Shank said an “active push” is underway to potentially expand the car’s program, with its home race at Mid-Ohio in May among the possibilities.
“It’s an active push by a lot of folks, from everybody,” Shank told Sportscar365. “From every side of it, we’d love to run some more if we can. We’ve got a lot on our plate this year.
“If we can run the [No. 86] Acura more we will. We just want to do it right. As usual, we’re tight on budget so we’ve got to watch that.”
While having campaigned two cars full-time last year, the team transitions into becoming a full customer effort in 2018, following IMSA’s permitted single-year of factory backing to both MSR and the 3GT Racing Lexus programs.
Despite the decreased support, Shank feels they’re better prepared for the season ahead.
Both of the cars are fresh off a shakedown at Palm Beach International Raceway earlier this week, ahead of the start of track action at the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
“Our cars, we’re in such a much better place now this year with our cars,” Shank said.
“I’m really happy with our progress, they’re really good cars now, and I want to get them out there if I can, if I can afford it.”
A potentially expanded effort for the No. 86 car would be in addition to the team’s six-race commitment in the Verizon IndyCar Series with Jack Harvey, which Shank said could also increase.
Negri Currently Without Ride
Longtime MSR driver Ozz Negri, who has competed with the team for the last 14 years, including consecutive appearance in the Rolex 24, is currently without a drive.
Shank said he was unable to put a deal together with the Silver-rated driver for the WeatherTech Championship season opener but has been appreciative of Negri’s continued support to the team.
“It’s so weird,” he said. “He showed up here today because he’s just come to support us and hang out, but we’re talking 14 seasons.
“There’s not many that have been around that long. But he’s thriving. He’s got a good coaching business. He’s doing very well and I’m trying to keep him around any way I can to be honest with you.”