[Source: Michael Shank Racing press release]
Indianapolis, IN (2 May 2012)- With the motor supply issue not yet resolved, Michael Shank Racing team owner Mike Shank confirmed on Wednesday that he has released IZOD IndyCar Series driver Jay Howard from his contractual commitment to the team for the 2012 Indianapolis 500.
A former Indy Lights Champion, Howard made a promising debut in the 2011 running of the Indianapolis 500 and was set to join Michael Shank Racing for the 2012 race. Howard is now free to pursue other options to participate in the Indianapolis 500. Michael Shank Racing will continue to develop the appropriate avenue for participating in the event.
“We are working every possible opportunity to make this happen and continue to hold our entry for the Indianapolis 500,” said Shank. “But at this point, we’ve not made the progress that we need to in terms of having our package finalized and having an agreement with a motor manufacturer. I know first hand how hard it is to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500, and the last thing in the world I want to do is to hold Jay back from getting the chance to do that.”
Shank was among the first team owners to take delivery of the 2012 Dallara DW12 in mid-January after announcing the formation of his IndyCar effort with driver AJ Allmendinger and Columbus businessman Brian Bailey at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season finale in Las Vegas.
Having developed the commercial partnerships required to post a competitive effort, Michael Shank Racing formally entered the 2012 Indianapolis 500 in late April with Howard the named driver in anticipation of securing an engine partnership. But the lack of an engine opportunity has significantly slowed plans for the team.
“I was really looking forward to working with Mike and helping him finally get into IndyCar,” said Howard. “For me personally, I have to keep moving forward and I remain committed to IndyCar and competing in this year’s Indy 500. I remain optimistic that IndyCar and the engine manufactures will continue in my corner so we can collectively fill that 33rdspot this year. Thank you to the fans for the their support and to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for continuing to provide a dream we all continue to work towards.”
“This is what I do, and there isn’t an ounce of give up in me,” said Shank of his IndyCar ambitions. “But we also have to be realistic about the calendar and what it takes to properly prepare for a race like the Indianapolis 500. I’m not done trying to make something happen, but I don’t want to keep Jay from realizing his dream, either. I’ve burned up every favor I could think of, called anyone who would be willing to listen, and been trying to work with Randy (Bernard, CEO, IndyCar) to just be able to get a motor. But the hole in the back of my DW12 is no closer to being filled than it was when we filed the entry.”
The team will continue to provide updates as they develop. The 96th Indianapolis 500 is May 27th, with practice for the event set to start Sunday, May 12.