Valiante Joins Michael Shank Racing

COLUMBUS, Ohio - After a breakout 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season, which saw Columbus-based Michael Shank Racing team take a record-setting pole for the Rolex 24 At Daytona and close out the year with two consecutive race wins, the team is already getting a fast start on 2009 with the signing of Michael Valiante. The Canadian-born racer will co-drive the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley with John Pew.

Valiante brings an impressive racing resume to the effort, having raced to championships from the start of his karting career before moving up the formula car ladder to Atlantic and Champ Car competition. Valiante made his first Daytona Prototype start in 2005, and competed fulltime in the Rolex Sports Car Series starting in 2006.

"As a driver, you want to be involved with a team that is willing to put in the effort that it takes to win, and that is definitely the case with Michael Shank Racing," Valiante said.

"Their shop is incredible, and their on-track record speaks for itself. I've known Mike (Shank) since the Atlantic days, and I'm really excited about this opportunity. I'm looking forward to working with John (Pew), and the Riley-Ford is a proven package. The team has shown for several years that it is a winning organization, and I'm hoping to be a part of even more success for this team this season."

After a partial run in 2007, Pew had an impressive 2008 campaign as the No. 6 entry closed the year out NINTH in the Team Championship standings.

"We closed the year out on such a high with our victory at Miller, but now we are focused on 2009 and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to work with Michael this year," said Pew, who scored two podiums in his first full season of Rolex Series competition.

"Getting back on the podium again is a high priority, starting with the (Rolex) 24 in January."

"We've known Michael for years and he brings a lot of speed, intelligence, and racecraft with him," said team owner Shank.

"We know he's going to be a great fit with this team. We've seen what he can do in the car, so we're really pleased to have him on our side and not have to race against him."

Valiante will get to work with the team starting at the November Test Days on Nov. 11-12.

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