Monday, January 28, 2013

Shank Would Be An Asset To IndyCar

Michael Shank Racing wasn't able to defend its Rolex 24 title yesterday, but they gave it all they had. Fighting back onto the lead lap after falling far behind early after a broken suspension, they managed to podium on a day where it seemed like no one had an answer for Chip Ganassi's crew.

As thrilled as I am with Charlie Kimball getting a Rolex 24 win under his belt (there aren't many nicer guys it could happen to), I have to admit I was pulling for Shank's team to pull out the win. (More notably, so was most of the Twitterverse, if you were following along online). They did their best, even leading a few laps late in the race, and making the last hours a torrent of guessing and strategy. They effectively play the scrappy underdogs to the Ganassi team's expected excellence--or at least, that's the perception. The truth is, they've built a great program, and it's that sort of judgement and stability that would be an asset as an IndyCar entrant.

I know a full-time IndyCar program for Shank in 2013 looks mighty sketchy right now, and speculation has always been that Shank's association with Ford might hurt his chances of grabbing up a Chevy or Honda for IndyCar. I can't speak to that, but I do know seeing the #60 show up along the IndyCar schedule would be a welcome sight indeed.

In short, this is the type of owner we want in IndyCar. Connected with fans, a respected tradition in motorsport, and the potential of bringing along a few aficionados  from other racing disciplines to the series. Let's not forget, MSR has worked with Helio Castroneves, Paul Tracy, Justin Wilson, and even Sam Hornish (back in Formula Atlantics). Shank was involved in open wheel in the past, and it seems like for the past year we've been waiting to get him back. His high-profile Rolex 24 victory and struggles with procuring an engine for last year's Indy 500 have certainly kept him very much in the fan consciousness during that time.

Even if it's Indy-only or just a part-time schedule, Mike Shank's team would be a welcome sight indeed. If they do jump in, I have no doubt they'll run their team with the same sort of passion and dedication we see in Grand-Am.

Lotus is out of the picture, which we couldn't say a couple of months ago. Could it be that Shank could find a home teaming up with another Chevy team, as was speculated last month?

This isn't some insider rant about engine policy, and I don't know the ins and outs of what all Shank would need to show up at Indianapolis or Mid-Ohio or Barber. This is just a fan saying how great it would be to see them be able to fulfill the possibilities first leaked at the tail end of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

The Rolex 24 is a sign spring is coming, and with it the IndyCar season. Let's hope that an engine contract and entry for Mike Shank is coming with it. 

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