Oswaldo Negri tests with Spirit of Daytona
Rising Star gets up to speed quickly in brief test

(11 January 05)--Oswaldo Negri Jr. was busy this weekend, getting his first laps in in a Daytona Prototype since the 2004 Grand American finale in Fontana, and was quickly up to speed. In addition to getting the opportunity to drive the SunTrust Racing Pontiac-Riley, Negri also got behind the wheel of a Spirit of Daytona Pontiac-Crawford on the first of three days of open testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Raceway

Running in the Crawford chassis, Negri's seat was on the other side of the cockpit from the Doran JE4 he drove with Michael Shank Racing during the 2004 season, and it was also his first run on the Rolex series' new Hoosier tires, as well as being his first time with power steering in the car.

"We threw a lot of new things at him, but he was quick right away," said team owner Troy Flis. "When you have talent, you have talent and that's what we expected when we put him in the car."

The team will race with experienced racers Bob Ward, Stephan Gregoire, and Doug Goad, and is exploring its options for the Rolex 24 to determine its final line up for the 43rd running of the endurance challenge.

"The tests have gone well for the first day," said Flis. "I'm pleased that so far we have been able to do what we came to do and that we got the chance to get Oswaldo in the car."

Flis wasn't the only one who was glad to see Negri back in action.

"It was great to get back into a car!" said a smiling Negri. "The car was a lot different from the Doran, so it took a few laps to get comfortable. Even though there was a lot of traffic, we got a couple quick laps in so it was pretty positive. We'll see what happens, but I was thankful to get the chance to test with the Spirit of Daytona team."

Getting up to speed quickly is nothing new for Negri, who showed that he was a quick qualifier during the 2004 season, taking fifth or better on the grid eight times, with three top-three qualifying efforts. Negri was recently honored in a poll hosted by TheRaceSite.com, which named Negri as a "Rising Star" in Grand American competition, an honor he shared with Max Angelelli.

The Brazilian had a breakout 2004 season in the Rolex ranks, taking two podium finishes with Burt Frisselle in their Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Doran.

Before racing with Grand American, Negri took several karting championships in his native Brazil and before going on to race F3 in England against guys with names like Barrichello, Coulthard, and de Ferran. Negri contested a limited schedule of Rolex races in 2003, and ran most of the 2004 season with Michael Shank Racing. Negri also has a wealth of experience developing race cars, as his talents in F3 and Indy Lights had led to him being tapped by Barber Dodge and Formula BMW USA to develop their cars as a test driver.