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WeatherTech Championship

Shank Targeting Expanded Program After Daytona Podium

Michael Shank hoping Daytona podium run can lead to expanded schedule for No. 86 Acura…

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

Michael Shank is hoping his team’s podium finish in last month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona will lead to additional races for its Acura NSX GT3, which could still turn into a full-season entry.

The No. 86 Acura of Alvaro Parente, Trent Hindman, Katherine Legge and AJ Allmendinger finished second in the GT Daytona class after a hard-fought battle in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.

While the team’s No. 93 car of Lawson Aschenbach and Justin Marks is set for the season, the No. 86 car is currently only confirmed for the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.

Asked whether the strong result could help expand the season for the No. 86 Acura, Shank expressed the desire but said the deal has to make sense for the team.

“I hope so,” he told Sportscar365. “There’s certainly people talking about it. If we can put it together we will.”

With the Rolex 24 class-winning GRT Lamborghini set to miss next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Parente, Hindman and Legge effectively head into the second round of the season as GTD championship leaders.

Shank said that on a day where the No. 93 entry suffered through misfortune before settling for an 11th place class finish, the NAEC-only effort was able to showcase the strength of the Ohio-based team.

“That car last year always was second fiddle it seemed to the 93 and I’m so happy it had an absolutely flawless run, except at the end when we had two gun failures on the last two stops,” he said.

“We lost a half-straightaway each time of track position and that’s what disconnected us [from the race-winning Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3] at the end.

“I think we could have pushed them, but I don’t know if we ultimately had the pace.

“[The No. 93] had the opposite experience. They ran really well for awhile and then we had a cooling hose come disconnected from the gearbox and never could recover from it.”

Additional Acura Possible for Mid-Season Debut

A fourth Acura, meanwhile, could join the GTD ranks later this season, alongside the two MSR and HART Racing entries.

Sportscar365 understands that a Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class operation has been closing in on a possible partial-season program that could debut as early as Sebring.

It would come as a further boost to the second-year GT3 contender, which claimed a pair of class wins last year in its debut season.

John Dagys contributed to this report

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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