Negri Feeling Right at Home(stead) Once Again
(Homestead, FL) 13 October- With both the IRL and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series staging their season finales at the South Florida-facility, there were plenty of Miami-based Brazilians racing at Homestead Miami Speedway this weekend.
But when the checkered flags flew, only one of those racing Brazilians was on the podium, spraying champagne as Oswaldo Negri co-drove with Mark Patterson to a strong third place finish for Michael Shank Racing.
The podium run was Negri's second of the 2009 season at the track, as he converted his debut KONI Challenge appearance in March into a third-place finish and he helped Ken Wilden on his way to the 2009 Championship. It also marked the second time he shared the Homestead celebrations with long-time co-driver Patterson, who netted the year-end Trueman Award for his efforts behind the wheel all season long.
For Negri, who has proven himself as one of the quickest drivers to strap into Daytona Prototype competition, the podium finish was another career highlight after charging from last in the field to take third at the finish. Making the celebrations that much sweeter was the presence of scores of friends and family on hand for the race.
In fact, just moments after emerging from the car following hours of door to door combat with some of the worlds best sports car drivers, Negri immediately and instinctively switched into his most cherished role-father--as he motioned to his daughters, who were eager to greet him after the race, to be safe and wait for all the cars to clear out of pit lane before crossing.
"I do not know what it is about this track, but I'm always hoping and working for something special to happen every time I race here. Having my family here and getting the Trueman Award for Mark to end this season makes it so special. I also had all my young go-karters here to watch this race and I'm very happy to not disappoint them today!" joked Negri. "We had to fight from 17th to get back to the lead pack. I had the right strategy from the team to do that, and just had to be aggressive when I could, and patient the rest of the time. It is fantastic to win races, but this is a very, very special race result for me and Mark and Michael Shank Racing to be on the podium here today."
The third place finish was a welcome close to the 2009 Rolex season, which has seen the No. 60 Ford-Riley regularly atop the timing sheets, but not able to break through for a podium result until the final event. The result also keeps Negri and Patterson's streak of podium finishes, which the duo started in 2005, in tact as the two have combined every season for at least one top-three finish.