Hindman, Farnbacher deliver Shank first title

October 21, 2019

Hindman, Farnbacher deliver Shank first title

October 21, 2019

Few teams generated as much buzz in the 2018-’19 IMSA offseason as Meyer Shank Racing, whose two-car program hoped to perform as well as it looked once announced.

Indeed it did.

Heinricher Racing team principal Jackie Heinricher’s all-female, Caterpillar-supported, program proved an instant hit and major media story line from the moment it was announced at the 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans. Last year’s runner-up Katherine Legge was set to lead the No. 57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo, and four other talented female drivers took the wheel alongside her as the 2019 season progressed.

It was the second car, though, that proved the stealthy dominant force of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class season.

While the Caterpillar car looked like a piece of heavy equipment machinery on wheels, the first black-and-blue and later black-and-pink SiriusXM/AutoNation No. 86 Acura was ultimately too hard to miss at the front of the field.

The two drivers responsible for that front-running performance were, like the car, quiet but stealthy. The young pairing of Trent Hindman, 24, and Mario Farnbacher, 27, were easily the measure of the class almost from start-to-finish.

IMSA changed the regulations this year to ensure the Silver-rated driver qualified. Only a handful of teams found a Silver-rated young professional driver they could utilize for the full season. Hindman, a qualified young driver who’d never driven a full WeatherTech Championship season but had won other IMSA championships over the years, proved an ideal candidate.

Qualifying generally figured to see Hindman up front, and with a class-leading three pole positions he was often the driver leading the charge. Farnbacher was new to some IMSA circuits even though he’d had a wealth of IMSA experience over the last several years. Farnbacher beat himself up for losing a possible win at Mid-Ohio, but rebounded nicely with Hindman and third driver Justin Marks to win at Watkins Glen.

The pairing proved almost impossible to beat. The usual combination of pace and consistency ensured each driver only needed to run the minimum drive time at Motul Petit Le Mans to win the title. A punctured radiator ended their day early.

SHANK FINALLY ATOP THE HEAP

As great as the title was for Hindman and Farnbacher, it was almost more satisfying for Mike Shank.

Shank is the embodiment of a “racing lifer.” A past driver, Shank’s team has been going for three decades as one of the ultimate stories of a “little guy” who’s hit it good.

He’s won plenty of major sports car races but this marked his first title, and came in partnership with new business partner Jim Meyer of SiriusXM and Acura, with its new Evo kit working well throughout the year.

Acura very nearly emerged atop the most voluminous class in terms of manufacturers, too. Ultimately Lamborghini beat Acura to that title. These two brands beat out the rest that included Lexus, Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG, Audi and McLaren.

Hindman and Farnbacher expressed how much it meant to deliver the title for Shank.

“To have that on our shoulders, is the gravity of Mike Shank. The Mike Shank,” Hindman said. “This is a guy who just, even before I started racing I was always watching the MSR car at Daytona Prototype in all these Grand-Am races at the Rolex 24, the 6 Hours of the Glen, and speaking of the Glen, to be driving Mike’s car and win with Mario and Justin Marks, for a guy like me who’s kind of a filthy-casual, to be in that position to work with Mike and be able to achieve this with Mike is nothing but all my gratitude towards him and all the opportunities he’s given all of us.”

Farnbacher added, “To give Michael Shank this first championship means a lot to me. He always, each time when he attempts to race, he wants 100 percent from us and we want to deliver. This year we did.”

Shank, who was busy during the race said afterwards, “Our goal was the have a better performance in the meat of the season so that we wouldn’t have to worry about Petit, and we did just that. I can’t thank my entire crew and Trent, Mario and Justin for a great year.”

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