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Meyer Shank Racing “Chugs” to First DPi Title

It was a night for a championship celebration for Meyer Shank Racing. (Photo: Riley Thompson | The Podium Finish)

It was a night for a championship celebration for Meyer Shank Racing. (Photo: Riley Thompson | The Podium Finish)

Meyer-Shank Racing, or MSR, is a little team out of Pataskala, Ohio that has often been referred to as the “Little Team That Could.”

On Saturday night, after a grueling 10 hours of racing in the IMSA season finale in the MOTUL Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, MSR would overcome a 44 point deficit to claim their first DPi championship and third overall for HPD and Acura.

Throughout the 10 hour event, MSR found themselves working from behind, trailing the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Acura entry, even after starting from the pole.

However, strategy, a quick pit stop and late race contact that caused heavy damage to the No. 10 machine allowed Tom Blomqvist to save fuel and take the checkered flag late on Saturday night.

After the race, Blomqvist said he knew he had some work to do on that final stint.  The team engineers told Blomqvist on the radio, after an extended caution, that he was good to go to push it on the first two laps after green and would update him on the fuel number.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel. I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist noted.

The yellow flag would come at a perfect time as on the prior pit stop, the No. 60 stayed out a lap longer than the No. 10.

That would prove critical on that final pit stop as the Wayne Taylor Racing team had to sit on pit road a moment longer while the MSR team jumped to the top spot.

The final hour of the race did not come without its challenges.

Blomqvist pulled away by over four seconds with under 25 minutes to go. Despite the advantage, traffic was heavy and caused problems for the No. 60 entry.

This allowed Filipe Albuquerque to close right on the back bumper of Blomqvist as the teams hit the 15-minute mark. As Blomqvist navigated around the No. 57 Mercedes easily, Albuquerque was forced to make a move in the middle of the corner.

By doing so, the two made heavy contact and almost immediately, the No. 10 Acura would fall off the pace.

The dejection on the Konika Minolta pit box was evident.

While one was dejected, another was elated. The No. 60 crew, not wanting to celebrate until the checkered flag flew, was all smiles.

Once the No. 10 Acura was on pit road, Blomqvist was told to take it easy.

Like the famed Eagles song, he certainly followed suit, cruising to the finish, marking the first win in the MOTUL Petit Le Mans and the first DPi championship for MSR.

During a tour held at the new MSR shop in June, Mike Shank told reporters tat the team was not where they wanted to be yet and that they had a lot of work to do in the final couple of months if they wanted to compete for the championship.

“We are working incredibly hard to get rid of these peaks and valleys that we’ve been facing through the year,” he continued.

After winning the Rolex 24 to start the season, MSR would tally five runner-up finishes. During the June open house, Shank hammered home a fairly regular point that he, his partners and the entire team have.

“You just can’t quit,” he said.

This is the mentality they have, no matter who is being pressured about success.

“It all goes downhill from my partners to me and then on to the drivers and team. We just can’t quit,” Shank would go on to say. “We’ll lose a lot more than we’ll win, but when a championship is on the line, you just have to become a little more consistent than the other person.”

MSR had a lot of consistency and frustrations along the way. In the end, they had a little luck as well.

“In the end of these battles, it’s emotionally draining, but when you keep fighting, keep practicing, keep developing, you get better,” Shank shared.

And for MSR, the fight through 10 hours of a mentally and physically demanding race with a championship on the line just showed everything that Mike, Jim and all of their partners have built.

Oliver Jarvis played a critical role throughout the middle portions of the race said following the checkered flag.

“Full credit to the entire team and for Meyer Shank to come away with victory and the championship, that’s something really special.  This race definitely was not easy and there were moments where I thought this could end badly, but the car really came alive at night,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis would give a lot of credit to his teammate.

“Tom (Blomqvist) did an amazing job at the end of the race there and we brought it home in the lead. I can’t thank the team and the entire crew for all of their hard work all season, they all deserve this one!” he exclaimed.

Helio Castroneves, who brings a ton of energy and talent to this team, echoed those sentiments, crediting Shank for keeping his career alive.

“I’m so glad to be a part of this team and drive with Tom and Olly,” he shared. ” Starting off the year by winning at Daytona was amazing. Now to finish out the season with another win and the championship is a great feeling.”

Castroneves came in to the weekend knowing they had a chance to win.

“I came into the race weekend with the mentality that I’m going to drive like I am a part of this championship, so to be able to add to what these guys have already done is a really good feeling,” he stated.

For Blomqvist, this was his second career win, the first coming in the season opening Rolex 24. Blomqvist has been the closer for MSR in these endurance races, and he showed again why MSR keeps him in that position.

His cooler than the other side of the pillow demeanor was illustrated in this race. He doesn’t get rattled.

“I can’t thank the entire team enough for the hard work they have put in all year,” Blomqvist said. “This championship definitely did not come easy, but all the guys and girls never gave up and we brought it home today.

“The car was really good, I managed to get a gap quite early. I was starting to get a bit brave in traffic at the end there, I had to be.”

And he had to be aggressive because he knew who was chasing him.

“Obviously, we know Filipe (Albuquerque) is very aggressive in traffic and I had to do the same,” he recalled. “I think some things didn’t go our way this season but ultimately, I think this one was meant to be.

“I haven’t felt this feeling in a car in a long, long time. When there is something to chase and you really feel on top of the car, and I felt like I was able to go that little extra mile. I wasn’t giving up today, there was no way this was going down without a fight.”

Certainly, Shank has a passion for winning and working with the right people.

“I want people here that want to win, those that will work 110% and it doesn’t matter if they have the experience or the background, hard work will pay off and those are the ones I’ll bring in to this race team,” he said

From the hauler drivers to the engineers, the partners to the drivers. Shank has gone from upstart to leader of the pack.

“Those other teams have more people, more money, more resources, but they will never have more fight than us,” he added.

For Shank, the championship isn’t for him.

It’s for everyone at MSR.

“To win this championship for Acura and HPD is everything that we have worked towards since I’ve been in IMSA,” he said. “Today, the drivers, the team, everyone executed perfectly – we kept calm, had a great strategy going and gave it our all until the very end and all of that work showed today.”

That fight paid off with a win at the MOTUL Petit Le Mans and a championship. After a time to celebrate, MSR’s drivers and team will rest for a little bit before getting back to work as a new car and season will be here in two short months.

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera. I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO. The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth. Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras. My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports. See you at a track soon

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