With little more than one month before the IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg, Michael Shank is still pressing and working to get his new IndyCar program finalized.
The team timeline set up to take delivery of the car and commence a testing program ahead of the 2012 season had a setback, as an anticipated partnership program for the MSR Indy campaign did not develop as had been intended. The goal of running Paul Tracy (LEFT) for a farewell season remains, but Shank admitted there was a “small chance” it could be with someone other than PT.
“I want to run PT – that's been the plan for the last eight weeks,” Shank said. “This setback didn't help, and there's a small chance it could be someone else.”
It's unlikely the car will be on track prior to St. Petersburg, but when it is, it will have a Lotus engine. Shank had announced the team's intentions to run a Lotus powerplant at its initial launch last October in Las Vegas, but the team was hopeful of earning a Honda contract as a result of Tracy's personal services backing from Honda Canada.
With that said, most of the other pieces are in place to get the MSR Indy effort to St. Petersburg. Shank is working to ensure this program gets off the ground, and that it doesn't compromise any of his other racing programs – notably its Grand-Am Rolex Series' Daytona Prototype effort, which won overall at the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“We've got the car in the shop and the people we need to go run the car, but at this point we are still working to have the full budget in place to go racing,” said Shank. “I don't want to be in a position to just go out and make up the numbers – we want to show up and have a competitive presence.”
“My main goal is to make this thing work, and if that means working with a technical partner to make it happen or just focusing on particular races, then so be it. Obviously, there are folks out there testing right now, and that is the best-case scenario to be in. We've got a little bit bigger hill to climb at the moment, but we are not giving up by any stretch.”