Daytona test - Oswaldo Negri final summary

Optimistic outlook for Negri's 2008 in Rolex Sports Car Series (Daytona Beach, FL) 14 January 08-- Win, lose, or place, Brazilian racer Oswaldo Negri almost always has an upbeat attitude. But it's clear to everyone that the Miami resident...

Optimistic outlook for Negri's 2008 in Rolex Sports Car Series

(Daytona Beach, FL) 14 January 08-- Win, lose, or place, Brazilian racer Oswaldo Negri almost always has an upbeat attitude. But it's clear to everyone that the Miami resident has an extra stride in his step these days as he looks forward to the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series season, which will kick off in two weeks' time at Daytona International Speedway with the 46th Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Why the smiles? A strong relationship with his co-driver, a new specification tire, a new powerplant, and some swoopy new body work on his race car are but a few reasons for Negri's outlook on the 2008 season, which will see him co-drive with Mark Patterson for a third consecutive year as Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal join the duo for the Rolex season-opener.

"Dave Kanning is really my secret weapon," says Negri. "Ever since the end of the Miller race last year, all anyone has seen of our engineers is the top of their heads because they've been so buried in work! Everyone has been working so hard to make use of the engineering support Ford is providing, to learn how to get the most out of these Pirellis, and how everything with the new bodywork translates into the data. But we're all really pumped up about how everything's coming together. Mike Shank has done a great job keeping this team moving forward."

The Pirelli tire, the new specification for Grand Am in 2008, is one thing that Negri knows will not only help his game, but will make for a better show for the Rolex Sports Car Series fans.

"The tire takes a little longer to get up to temperature, but once it does, it has fantastic grip and the window for performance is much bigger than it was," said Negri. "It seems crazy to say this with how competitive this series already is, but I think the cars are going to be even more closely matched this season. I think it will allow all the drivers to get even more performance out of the Daytona Prototypes and everything is going to be very, very close!"

Even though fast lap times were not the focus of the Test Days-the goal was to work with his co-drivers on finding a set-up that worked for the highly competitive foursome, he still set a fast time of the day on Sunday when he scored a rare clear lap on the final day of testing.

"Sure that's a good thing but what really is going to matter is a strong qualifying position to stay out of trouble early in the race, and then having a car that everyone can set consistent fast times with. And of course the biggest thing is keeping that car on the right side of the pit wall and on the track."

Negri, who set the fastest unofficial time set by a Daytona Prototype last year in the final practice session before qualifying, which was slowed by wet conditions, anticipates a record-setting lap time for 2008.

"Everybody was at least two seconds faster than last years pole time, and I expect that with two more weeks of time to go through the data and keep improving like this Mike Shank team always does, that the times will be even faster when qualifying comes around. Hopefully I'm on the top of that list!"

-credit: msr

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Series GRANDAM