Having developed its strongest commercial sponsorship lineup in team history, Michael Shank Racing announced on Friday its 2018 season plans in a press conference held at the 30th annual PRI Show in Indianapolis. The Ohio-based team will manage its largest racing program to date with a dual campaign in the Verizon IndyCar Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
After making its IndyCar debut in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 with driver Jack Harvey, the team will build on that effort in 2018 with a select schedule of IndyCar events with the talented Briton. As part of a multi-race program with commercial sponsors SiriusXM and AutoNation, America’s Largest Automotive Retailer, the race program will utilize a technical partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM).
Harvey, who scored F3 Championship honors in 2012 ahead of his move to race Stateside, earned runner-up in the Indy Lights championship twice with six race victories for SPM. After making his IndyCar debut with Michael Shank Racing in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, Harvey returned to the cockpit of a Honda-powered machine for the final two IndyCar races of the 2017 season at Watkins Glen and Sonoma with SPM.
The Michael Shank Racing program with Harvey will be Honda powered and will include outings at St. Petersburg, Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500 and Sonoma Raceway.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for this to come together and for everything to be moving forward,” said Harvey. “I had a very positive experience racing for Mike Shank in the Indianapolis 500, and it was great to build on that with SPM in the last two races of the year. Now to be racing for Mike and to also have the support of SPM for this program, it is the best of both worlds for me. I want to do as well as we possibly can for AutoNation and SiriusXM, and I cannot wait for St. Pete to get here.”
AutoNation’s Chief Marketing Officer and EVP, Marc Cannon said, “Jack is a talented, dynamic young driver,” Cannon went on to say, “AutoNation is excited to partner with Jack, SiriusXM and the Michael Shank Racing team.”
“Jack Harvey and Michael Shank Racing are a great team and we are pleased to support them as they expand their IndyCar race schedule,” said Jim Meyer, Chief Executive Officer, SiriusXM. “We were proud to sponsor them in last year’s Indy 500, and we look forward to having SiriusXM represented on the car for several races this coming year, starting with the IndyCar season-opener in St. Petersburg.”
In addition to the commercial program with SiriusXM and AutoNation, Michael Shank Racing is pleased to continue and grow its long-running partnerships with Curb Records, CAP and Associates, Rocky Fork Company, and Roberts Service Group in 2018 as the partners have stepped up to grow their involvement in both the IndyCar and IMSA programs.
“I’m so happy to have everything come together and to be able to make this announcement—there was a ton of work that went into just getting to this point, and of course it is just the start,” said Shank. “This is a very big deal— for me and my wife Mary Beth, and for my race team. We are really excited to have Jack (Harvey) back with us, and very focused on making the most of this multi-year program. It is a big undertaking but I’ve been working on this nonstop, every day for months to have everything in place for us to be able to go out and build a competitive program.”
“Ric, myself and everyone at SPM are really excited for this partnership with Mike Shank, his team and, of course, Jack Harvey who we’re so pleased to welcome back into the organization,” said Sam Schmidt. “We’re really looking forward to working with AutoNation and SiriusXM again as well. We continue to look for ways to strengthen our team and improve our core operations, and we think this multi-year partnership will do just that. Mike’s history in motorsport speaks for itself, and we’re pleased he has decided to expand his INDYCAR program and involving us in that endeavor.”
New Era in Acura IMSA Program
Michael Shank Racing, which won the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall and led in its debut outing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Honda power, campaigned the Acura NSX GT3 in its maiden season of IMSA competition in 2017. Despite going up against manufacturers that had decades of racing experience to draw upon, the Michael Shank Racing effort netted two IMSA victories with the brand-new platform.
Building on a strong record of success in the category, the team will transition to a customer based operation for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with one full time GTD class entry and a second campaign that will contest the IMSA endurance championship as well as potentially making additional IMSA race outings.
Justin Marks and Lawson Aschenbach will share the full-season driving duties in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3. The American duo will be joined by German ace Mario Farnbacher for the endurance events in 2018, while 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner AJ Allmendinger will return to the team for the 2018 Rolex 24 event in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3.
Marks has a storied racing career that includes a 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona GT class victory, experience at the NASCAR Cup level, victories in NASCAR Xfinity and ARCA, as well as success in IMSA GT competition with multiple victories and poles.
With two career IMSA victories to his credit including a run to victory lane this year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Aschenbach has a proven record in the IMSA GTD class ranks as well as four World Challenge driver championships on his racing resume.
The team will also manage a second Acura NSX GT3 entry focused on taking the 2018 IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Katherine Legge, who took two victories on board the Acura NSX GT3 with the team last year, will co-drive with Alvaro Parente in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Watkins Glen Six Hour, and Petit Le Mans. The team will announce the full lineup in the new year.
“We learned so much with this program last year and I was very proud to represent Acura and bring home a pair of wins with the NSX in its first season,” said Shank. “The NSX is phenomenal and we want to build on what we’ve learned so far. I’m very pleased to have two big talents in Justin (Marks) and Lawson (Aschenbach) come on board—their records speak for themselves. Having the second entry for the long races and maybe some additional events will also be a boost for the program, between what Katherine (Legge) already knows about this car from last year and having a guy like Alvaro (Parente) join us, that will be a second bullet for us in the long races. And people are going to love how these cars are going to look.”
MICHAEL SHANK RACING 2018 IMSA DRIVER QUOTES:
Lawson Aschenbach, No. 93 Acura NSX GT3:
“I’m extremely excited to be joining Michael Shank Racing in 2018. This team has the professionalism and dedication needed for success. From top to bottom you can see that everyone has a common goal, and that is to win. This is the type of environment that drivers dream about. It’s going to be fun teaming up with my buddy Justin Marks. He’s a great friend and we are both excited to be pushing for podiums and wins with Michael Shank Racing and the Acura NSX GT3.”
Justin Marks, No. 93 Acura NSX GT3:
“Even focusing the past years of my career in NASCAR, I’ve always felt that a return to full time endurance sports car racing was a goal. To make that return with a team like MSR is really special. I have a lot of respect for Michael (Shank) and everything he’s accomplished. It’s a very cohesive, dedicated, classy group of talented individuals.”
“Michael Shank Racing is very respected in the racing industry. They’ve proven they were well equipped to take on the NSX North American racing program in 2017 and I think are poised to take the next step in 2018 as GTD Championship contenders. Lawson and I are great friends and have been trying to put something together to be teammates for several years, so driving with him is incredibly exciting for me. I’m a fan of his talent, work ethic, and approach.”
Mario Farnbacher , No. 93 Acura NSX GT3:
“Michael Shank has a big and great name in the IMSA WeatherTech series. Since I started driving in the IMSA series back in 2014, his cars have always been at the top of the chart. Overall it’s definitely one of the best teams in the paddock. To be honest, I have always been a Japanese car fan. My brother and I have been collecting Japanese cars, including a Honda NSX NA2, for several years now. To drive the new generation of the NSX is a honor, and then the GT3 version is unbelievably great. I am proud to be part of this program. I’ve never driven with Lawson (Aschenbach) or Justin (Marks), but they are both nice guys and I am sure we will be a strong team for this season. I can’t wait to work with them together.”
AJ Allmendinger, No. 93 Acura NSX GT3:
“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the 24! I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back. His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”
Katherine Legge, No. 86 Acura NSX GT3:
“I am really excited to be joining Michael Shank Racing for another season. We had a lot of success last year especially with it being the first season for the Acura NSX GT3. Bringing home two wins last year definitely made me want to achieve more of that for this year. I think Alvaro (Parente) and I will be a great pairing and hopefully we can achieve even more this year in the endurance events.”
Alvaro Parente, No. 86 Acura NSX GT3:
“I have a good feeling about joining Michael Shank Racing, knowing how successful the team was last year and seeing the strong performances in the races. I really look forward working with the team and working hard for good results this coming season. Speaking to Mike (Shank), I can understand straight away how serious and determined everyone is, and that is also my style so think we can have a good season together. I raced against the Acura last year in PWC and saw some great progression and some good results and even more so with MSR in the IMSA championship.”
Source. Sunday Group