Michael Shank announced his MSR Indy team at Las Vegas last October - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Although it didn't show up on the entry list offered by Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week, Michael Shank Racing Indy (MSR Indy) has a car entered in the 96th Indianapolis 500 scheduled for May 27th. Driver of the No. 66 Dallara/Firestone Indy car is Jay Howard; the team still awaits an engine program for the race.
"Filing the entry is just the first step for us," noted Shank, who won this year's 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona (in his ninth attempt). "We have the sponsor package in place and we believe Jay is the kind of driver who could really shine in the 500. The challenge remains for us to acquire the right to utilize an engine to practice, qualify and race in the Indianapolis 500," Shank explained. "We look forward to making everything final and will be making announcements regarding the program when appropriate."
MSR Indy has had a Dallara DW12 in its 20,000-square-foot Columbus, OH-area shop in January and has been working to develop the necessary commercial support to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series ever since. At one point it looked like veteran Paul Tracy had the season-long ride, but the commercial entity expected to back the Canadian and Shank's organization never fulfilled their end of the bargain.
Jay Howard - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Briton Howard, the 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion, had his first experience in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing during the 100th anniversary running last May. "Competing in my first Indy 500 last year was a dream come true," Howard said. "We've worked really hard to put the sponsorship in place and look forward to receiving an engine to compete this year." Howard ran as high as seventh in the 2011 Indy 500 before a right-rear tire issue stopped his forward progress; he finished 30th in a Sam Schmidt/RLL Racing entry due to contact.
MSR Indy is a partnership between former driver Michael Shank, current NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger and Columbus-area businessman Brian Bailey. MSR Indy operates from the Michael Shank Racing shop in concert with Shank's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series effort.
"Entering the Indianapolis 500 is something I've been working on all my life, and this is a day I've been thinking about ever since stepping out of an Indy car and retiring as a driver," Shank said.
Shank announced the formation of MSR Indy during the ill-fated Las Vegas IZOD IndyCar Series race weekend last October; at the time he said he'd be racing with Lotus power.