After 125 laps of caution free, green flag to checkered flag racing, Meyer Shank Racing scored its second podium finish of the 2018 season in its home event at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
A nail-biting last lap executed by Alvaro Parente earned the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 a second-place result after pacing 113 of the 116 GTD class race laps in the top three. Lawson Aschenbach finished the event in the No. 93 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 fifth in the order with his co-driver Justin Marks.
The Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio marked the first sprint race of the 2018 race season and it did not disappoint. After both cars qualified on the second and third rows, the team set its focus forward.
With Katherine Legge staging the first stint of the race, she kept a consistent pace and made the most of the opening laps to move the No. 86 Acura NSX to third before turning the car over to Parente on Lap 45. Marks, had an equally stout start in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3, racing into the top six before handing the car over to Aschenbach on Lap 45.
With a caution-free event, both closing drivers drove a smart race as prototype traffic raged through the field lap after lap. It all came down to the final laps of the event which saw Parente make an impressive charge to close the gap on the lead car. With his nose stuck to the bumper of the No. 14 entry, Parente did everything in his power to get by, but it would be a mere 0.191-seconds that separated him from the leader as he crossed the finish line second.
“I am very happy with the result because we were on it and had a great weekend,” said Parente. “Unfortunately, I got caught up with traffic which cost me a load of time and that was probably the race win right there. A big thank you to everyone who made this possible including the MSR Racing team sponsors and Acura. I am just very happy to have this opportunity to come back with Katherine (Legge), but still frustrated we didn’t pull out the race win.”
Legge was satisfied with the results this weekend and was happy with the performance of her teammate Parente in the closing moments of the race.
“It feels pretty good to be on the podium again,” said Legge. “We’ve made very few mistakes this year and the team has done a fantastic job in the pits. Alvaro (Parente) is a top class driver. We may have not had the speed but we have every bit of fight. It’s the home race for Mike (Shank) and Acura so we were fighting hard. This is a testament to our attitude which was better than our speed this weekend.”
Both Aschenbach and Marks had a strong run and were on their way to a podium result, but an hiccup in the pits cost the team just enough time, but settled with a solid top five finish.
“It’s a little disappointing since we wanted something better than that,” said Marks. “The other car was really fast at the end of the race. I think we were a little bit better than that through practices which had us having better hopes. We got shuffled back a bit during the pit stop, and the car just lost pace at the end of the stint. Those things really hurt us and took a podium from us. Everyone worked hard this weekend and we will just try and be better next time.”
Aschenbach made a standout run during the first half of his stint, closing in on the competition ahead bringing the No. 93 machine to have a solid fight for third.
“The car was quite quick and we had a really good balance on that second stint,” said Aschenbach. “I was able to reel in the top three, four, five cars pretty quickly. We used up the tires a little too quickly so I was waiting for the pit stop so we could jump ahead of everybody. Everything was working according to plan, but when we had an issue during the pit stop, that was it for us. The Meyer Shank Racing team will go back to the shop and regroup better than ever before we get to Detroit.”
Getting to race at home and in front of the locals, Mike Shank, was thrilled with the success that the team had this weekend in scoring its second podium this year.
“I just can’t say enough about Alvaro (Parente) and the 86 team today,” said Shank of the team’s podium result. “I think we are close to being back in the championship. It was a great effort and we absolutely gave it our all. I really wish we could have gotten the Lexus at the end but we had a good strong run. We had a problem on the last stop on the 93 which would have put us P3 without too much problem. I hate it for those guys but it is still a solid top five. We can keep building off of it, but I am happy about how our cars are right now.”
The team will keep the momentum at the top of their minds as they prep for the next round of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition at Detroit on June 1-2.
Source. Sunday Group