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A number of new teams will be joining the returning racing efforts for the 2012 IndyCar season, the inaugural year of returning engine manufacturer competition and the beginning of turbo-car racing. Of the teams making their break into the series, Grand-Am Rolex Series team owner Michael Shank and his Indy effort may be growing the fastest, but only because they have the most work ahead of them.
The first team to announce partnering with third series engine-builder Lotus, Michael Shank Racing Indy, is now focusing on growing the team as well as acquiring their equipment.
Shank said in a release that responses to team opportunities have been numerous.
"We've had conversations with people at every level of the program, drivers to mechanics to folks on the commercial side of things," he said. Shank added that the team has evaluated what assets they already have at their disposal and what they still need to find in prospective team members.
Focusing on the rank and file may be all that Shank can do with his team for the time being. The team isn't scheduled to receive possession of their 2012 Dallara DW12 under Dec. 15 and there isn't an existing date that they can expect having an engine to put in it either.
While Shank's team was the first to jump at lagging engine provider Lotus, the team has not become the engine manufacturer's anchor effort. Lotus has since acquired a second team for the new season: Keith Wiggins-owned HVM Racing, fielders of Simona de Silvestro this year.
Additionally, Lotus has pushed the date for track testing the motor further back to the end of November (they had predicted the engine would be ready by mid-November in October, at which point Honda and Chevrolet were well into in-car testing).
The delays have not dissuaded Shank, nor Wiggins for that matter, who said "Despite the choices, once it was apparent that Lotus would produce an engine, it was a clear decision for us to run with them."
Shank traveled with team co-owner Brian Bailey to see their new chassis at Dallara's facility near Indianapolis, saying that it was great to see the car "in the flesh."
Shank added that his team has been familiarizing itself with the 2012 equipment as much as possible and that they look forward to taking possession of the car soon.
He also said he will be looking to pair his new car with an experienced driver, perhaps doubling up with his Grand-Am wheelmen, Oswaldo Negri Jr. and John Pew. With 2012 ushering so much into the sport, it will be exciting to see how new teams like Shank's will contend with battle-hardened racing efforts.
Hopefully the faith in their partnership with Lotus will soon yield rewards instead of disappointing delays.