Laguna Seca: Oswaldo Negri preview

Daytona Prototype track record holder returns to Laguna Seca this weekend With just over 2.2 miles of dips, crests, turns, and of course a little set of corners known as the Corkscrew, it's difficult to find a track that is as popular with the...

Daytona Prototype track record holder returns to Laguna Seca this weekend

With just over 2.2 miles of dips, crests, turns, and of course a little set of corners known as the Corkscrew, it's difficult to find a track that is as popular with the Rolex Sports Car Series drivers as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is. And as the Series prepares to gather for round five and the U.S. Sports Car Invitational, there is one driver in particular who is looking forward to this weekend's visit to the Monterey Peninsula--the fastest guy.

Oswaldo Negri set the Laguna Seca qualifying track record in his first attempt with a 1:24.357-second lap to take pole for the Rolex Series' debut visit to the track in 2005. Even more remarkable was the fact that Negri's race effort was the first race of a limited schedule with Michael Shank Racing for him and New York businessman Mark Patterson, and they didn't even own the car--it was just a weekend rental!

"That was a great moment for me--I hadn't been in any race car in six months, but when it was time to qualify, it was like I'd been doing it every day for weeks and we got the pole," says Negri. "I had a great season with Mike Shank in 2004, but I didn't have a full season program in place for 2005 so it was a great way to show what I could do."

What Negri also was able to show was that he is a winner- as he and Patterson have since gone on to emerge as one of the most potent driver combinations among the teams that sport a gentleman driver and a pro driver such as Negri, with multiple podium appearances to their credit including a strong second place in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Not only did Negri and Patterson win the Miller Sunchaser 9 Hour event to close out the 2006 season, but in doing so, it locked up the manufacturer title for engine maker Lexus as well as sealing the Trueman Award Championship for Patterson. The two will be looking for some success this weekend as Rolex Series prepares for the second Daytona Prototype-only race of the season.

"Of course I love this track," smiles Negri. "It reminds me of racing in Europe and there is so much character to the place. It also takes a little bit of everything to be fast-some technical sections, some high-speed sweepers, and obviously there's nothing in the world like the corkscrew. Mark and this whole team have come so far from when we first started here and I am just looking forward to the whole weekend."

-credit: sgm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing