Michael Shank Racing's Oswaldo Negri Named "Rising Star"
(17 December 04)-- 2004 Michael Shank Racing driver Oswaldo Negri was recently named as the "Grand American Daytona Prototype Rising Star" in a survey of Grand American teams and officials, as well as a panel of media members. Negri shares the award with Max Angelelli, who also had a stand out 2004 season. Negri co-drove the Lexus-powered Doran with young Burt Frisselle, and the driver pairing proved potent, netting two podium finishes during the season and taking the MSR car to sixth in the team championship.
"I am quite honored to have been named for this award," said Negri. "This season was one of my best ever. Even though it was the team's first year in the series going against some bigger teams, we always had a competitive chance, and it was very rewarding. I have to thank the Frisselles and whole Michael Shank Racing team for the faith that they showed in me, and all the hard work that they do, because if they hadn't done such a good job all season, Burt and I would have never been able to show our speed."
Negri, who took championships in his native Brazil and went on to race in England against guys with names like Barrichello, Coulthard, and de Ferran, brought speed and experience in the Daytona Prototype to the team, having contested a limited schedule of races in 2003. He also brought a wealth of experience developing race cars, as his time 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.
Eager to show they were well-placed in the category, and working to make the most of the opportunity, Negri and Frisselle scored a coup in just their first race together, hustling their way to third place in qualifying and backing that up with a scrappy run to third in the race behind a Michael Shank Racing crew that was adapting quickly to the special challenge of pit stops in sprint-format endurance racing.
After a series of setbacks in the mid season that saw the team fall in the championship order, Negri and Frisselle kept their heads and their positive attitude, fighting all the way to close the season out with yet another top-ten at California Speedway.
"This is a great thing for Os to get the recognition we feel he deserves," said team owner Mike Shank. "He played a big part in our first season as we learned the nuances of the car and of the endurance category. We are hoping we will be able to include him in our 2005 plans, because he has shown us, and everyone in the Rolex paddock, that he deserves to be here."
Michael Shank Racing was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motorsports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr.