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Continued: Patrick Dempsey back at Le Mans as part of all-American team with legitimate shot to win

  • Article by: JENNA FRYER , AP Auto Racing Writer
  • Last update: June 19, 2013 - 1:21 PM

"I think there's opportunities at Sonoma to get to do a little bit different pit strategy," he said. "Knowing that you don't really have track position to protect kind of can create opportunities. We've been there in the past where we've had either bad qualifying or something happened during the race and we had to come in and pit or penalties on pit road, like last year we had the penalty on pit road and had to go to the back and we worked our way back up to fourth, but as much as it hurt us, it also created opportunities."


It's been a rough few weeks for Gustavo Yacaman, the Grand-AM Series driver who was placed on two-race probation by series officials for "his involvement in various incidents" during the June 1 race in Detroit.

His first stint back on the track since the hand-slapping couldn't have gone any worse.

The Colombian started eighth at Mid-Ohio on Saturday and was trying to make a pass on Memo Rojas — the same driver he wrecked at Detroit — when the two made contact. It led to a flat tire for Yacaman, who drove off the track and through a gravel trap, which ruptured the oil line.

The Michael Shank Racing entry then burst into flames, causing significant damage to the No. 6 Ford-Riley. It also led to harsh criticism of Yacaman from racers from various series, many who instantly took to social media to lambast the 22-year-old.

Among those showing zero sympathy was Scott Pruett, Rojas' co-driver who never got a chance to drive at Detroit because of the accident with Yacaman.

"I feel really bad for Mike Shank, but not the driver," Pruett said. "It will be interesting to see what Grand-Am does, since he's on probation."

Shank on Sunday supported his driver through a series of tweets, saying Yacaman drives for the team this season and "that is not changing" while acknowledging he "has made bad decisions and I promise u that we will correct this path."

Shank said the team has obligations to the sponsor and the 10 employees that work on the car, and tweeted, "Our focus is now on the massive rebuild effort to try and get the 6 car to Watkins."

All wasn't lost at Mid-Ohio for the Shank organization. Ozz Negri marked his return to the No. 60 with a fourth-place finish with co-driver John Pew. The car had to come back from significant damage of its own suffered in Detroit, and Negri had missed three races while he continued to recover from an offseason training injury to his leg.

"It's great having Ozz back, it's like a missing family member that's finally back," Pew said. "The whole team is excited that he's back. The guys did a tremendous job getting the car back from Detroit. Right down to the last nut and bolt it rolled off the trailer just about perfect. It was an awesome car. It's too bad we couldn't get a podium, but I'm pretty happy with a fourth place."

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