IMSA: Honda to power Michael Shank Racing’s P2 prototype

1 Comment

Michael Shank Racing’s new Ligier JS P2 prototype now has an engine to go with it.

MSR confirmed today at the ongoing Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis that it had entered an engine partnership with Honda.

The team, featuring drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew, is flipping to the P2 equipment for the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship after more than 230 starts with the Daytona Prototype chassis. Additionally, with Honda now on board, MSR is also making a power switch after running Ford engines for several years.

“Moving to the Ligier JS P2 should not only be an asset for our TUDOR campaign this year, but it is also a step toward being in a position to compete at Le Mans in 2016,” Shank said in a statement.

“This is a great package and has already proven itself, not only here in the TUDOR Championship, but also in the World Endurance Championship. This is a big move for our team, and I’m really excited about the future.”

“We’re very much looking forward to our new partnership with Michael Shank Racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship,” said Allen Miller, prototype project leader for Honda Performance Development.

“Michael Shank Racing has established itself as one of the premier teams in American endurance racing, and we believe their switch to an LMP2 chassis and Honda turbocharged V6 engine positions them well for 2015 and the seasons to come.”

MSR’s tandem of Negri and Pew finished seventh in the Prototype standings last year with just one podium finish, a runner-up late in the year at Road America.

But that was then, and the team’s already getting after it in regards to 2015. MSR’s Twitter account showed off a newly assembled Ligier this afternoon:

Additional MSR driver announcements for the longer 2015 endurance rounds will be announced in the coming weeks.

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
1 Comment

With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”