Photo courtesy of IMSA

Shank will finally take part in Indy 500 with Harvey, Andretti

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So, there’s that one major bit of Andretti Autosport news this morning involving McLaren, Honda, Fernando Alonso and the Indianapolis 500.

This will get overlooked but is great news for one of racing’s good guys and veteran team owners, as Michael Shank Racing will be part of the ownership group for Andretti’s previously announced fifth car, the No. 50 AutoNation Honda set to be driven by rookie Jack Harvey.

Shank made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut last year with an LMP2 Ligier JS P2 Honda, and had a potential opportunity for the Indianapolis 500 last year with Gabby Chaves fall through a few weeks before the race. He also announced a team to run in 2012, having bought a chassis, but could not procure an engine lease.

But now Shank, who runs two Acura NSX GT3s full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, will be at the Speedway in a Honda-powered IndyCar.

Here’s the release below:

Michael Shank Racing will team with Andretti Autosport to campaign the No. 50 Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport Honda/Dallara with driver Jack Harvey for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500.

The collaboration marks the newest chapter for Columbus, Ohio-based Mike Shank, who competed as a driver in the open wheel ranks and made one IndyCar start in 1997 before moving to focus on team ownership.

That focus saw his team flourish in endurance sports car racing, having won the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona as well as leading the race in the team’s first-ever Le Mans 24 Hour start in 2016.

The Michael Shank Racing partnership with Andretti Autosport reflects the culmination of a lifetime of effort, as the team becomes one of the few organizations to contest the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Le Mans 24 Hour, and Indianapolis 500.

“It has been nearly 25 years since my wife Marybeth and I started this race team, so to have this opportunity finally come together—it is huge for us,” said Shank, who oversees the Acura NSX GT3 program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “We have been working to find a way to race in the Indianapolis 500 for years, and I’m grateful that our relationships have developed to put us in this position. Ever since we joined the Honda family, we’ve been able to continue to grow as a team and this is a great example of that. We are very excited to be working with the defending champions, and Jack (Harvey) is a very promising talent so we are thrilled to have this opportunity.”

Harvey has two Indy Lights victories to his credit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, scoring victories in both the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Freedom 100 on his way to runner-up in the 2015 Indy Lights championship after having won the British F3 championship in 2013.

“As everyone has read, the Month of May is going to be big for us. We’re really excited to be partnering with not only McLaren and Honda for Fernando Alonso, but also with Michael Shank Racing in a joint entry on the No. 50 for Jack Harvey,” said Michael Andretti. “Michael [Shank] and the partnership with his organization was instrumental in allowing us to run six cars in the 101st Indy 500. The six drivers and engineering teams will work closely together as we defend our win from 2016.”

MICHAEL SHANK RACING TEAM HIGHLIGHTS  

  • Winner of the Petit Le Mans in a Honda-Ligier (2016)
  • Winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona  (2012)
  • Set a new speed record in 2013 when Colin Braun completed a 222.971mph lap at Daytona International Speedway with the team’s Daytona Prototype
  • 6 Wins, 5 Poles, 35 podiums in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar competition –
  • 256 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starts (250 in Prototype, 6 in GTD)
  • Ninth in the team’s 24 Hours of Le Mans Debut in a Honda-Ligier (2016)

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.