Michael Shank Racing’s big penalty
Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 in the horseshoe around midnight (Anne Proffit photo)
So I just received a posting from Grand-Am Road Racing, telling me that they’ve fined and penalized the 2012 winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 Ford-Riley (together with the drivers and Ford) for violating a specific portion of the Grand-Am rule book that states: “Grand-Am will specify components and performance levels in the Specific Car Regulations that must be adhered to.”
Apparently Roush Yates Engines (RYE) or Michael Shank Racing (MSR) didn’t do just that, as Grand-Am found the Ford V-8 engine in the No. 60 had “mechanical adjustments resulting resulting in performance levels outside the documented maximums.”
Now I’m trying to figure out what that means in English. But nobody’s talking because it’s after 5PM in Daytona Beach and no one at Grand-Am is available. John Maddox, Roush Yates Engines support manager for the Grand-Am program isn’t answering texts or emails, so I can only assume he’s facing the music with Doug Yates somewhere in North Carolina.
I’m figuring this must have been a big no-no because of the forfeitures involved, as the team has to give up the $35,000 prize money it received for coming back from seven laps down and finishing third in the Rolex 24 at Daytona held last weekend, along with losing 30 teem championship points; it also loses a single point in the North American Endurance Championship standings.
In addition the drivers, Ozz Negri, John Pew, Justin Wilson, Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger (whose stirring drive in the final minutes reminded everyone watching why The Dinger deserves a topnotch ride somewhere, anywhere) were each penalized 30 driver championship points. This could be deadly for Negri and Pew, who run the entire season for MSR. The others revert to INDYCAR (Wilson) and NASCAR for Ambrose and Allmendinger.
Grand-Am penalized Ford 30 manufacturer championship points for the infraction; the engines are produced by Ford’s partner Roush Yates Engines and RYE also maintains them and sends track support liaisons for every race.
While it’s bad enough that Shank’s outfit is losing a $35,000 pay day, it also must send $15,000 to Grand-Am’s official charity, Camp Boggy Creek.
The big question concerns all Ford entries, because if there was an irregularity on the No. 60, there might also have been problems with the other Ford cars in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The Starworks Motorsports No. 2 finished sixth in the race with Ryan Dalziel, Alex Popow, Seastien Bourdais and Allan McNish driving, while the rest of the Ford contingent had their problems.
The second MSR entry (No. 6) was 41st, the second Starworks car No. 8) was 43rd, BTE Sport brought their No. 77 Daytona Prototype home in 47th place and Doran Racing’s Ford-Riley finished right behind in 48th.
Guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how this shakes out?
A day later Shank elected not to contest the penalty, knowing how useless it would be. He simply wants to improve the process in the future for the good of the Grand-Am series, which merges with the American Le Mans Series at the close of both seasons.
“I want to be able to show up at Daytona International Speedway each spring and be able to run flat out from practice to the race without fearing that we will get engine penalties,” Shank declared. “Winning the Rolex 24 should come down to the engineering, driving talent, and strategy — not who can win the race on the dyno in Concord (NASCAR’s R&D facility). Obviously this entire process has been very frustrating, but just like we did in the 24, we will have to put it behind us, embrace all of our partners, and get to work on clawing our points back starting at COTA.”
By Anne Proffit