Utah: Lexus race report

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NEGRI/PATTERSON GIVE LEXUS MANUFACTURER'S TITLE WITH 9 HOURS WIN; LEXUS POWERS GANASSI RACING TO TEAM TITLE TOELLE, Utah (September 2, 2006) -- Oswaldo Negri took the lead on Lap 172 and then battled nose-to-tail with Mike McDowell over the ...

NEGRI/PATTERSON GIVE LEXUS MANUFACTURER'S TITLE WITH 9 HOURS WIN; LEXUS POWERS GANASSI RACING TO TEAM TITLE

TOELLE, Utah (September 2, 2006) -- Oswaldo Negri took the lead on Lap 172 and then battled nose-to-tail with Mike McDowell over the remainder of the race before pulling away in the final minutes to win the Discount Tire Sunchaser 9 Hours and give Lexus its first Rolex Sports Car Series Manufacturer's Championship.

Negri and teammate Mark Patterson ran in the top-five throughout much of the race in their #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley and were involved in a thrilling four-car battle over the final three hours in the series debut at the Miller Motorsports Park.

"I'm so happy to win this one for Mike Shank, Mark Patterson, Lexus and myself," said Negri, who campaigned most of the final three hours. "It was just Mark and I (most cars ran three drivers) and right now I'm exhausted, but I wouldn't trade a minute of it. The team gave us a good car tonight, especially about midway through a stint and we had the power to get it done."

After a pair of seconds earlier this season, the win is the first for Negri, Patterson and the Michael Shank Racing team, which has campaigned Lexus power since entering the series in 2004, and gave the team a sixth-place overall finish for the season. The victory was the third straight for Lexus and its seventh of the season.

In addition to the race victory and the Manufacturer's Championship, with their fourth-place finish tonight, the Ganassi Racing #01 CompUSA Lexus won the Daytona Prototype Team Championship after winning a series-high five races this season. Drivers Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz and Scott Dixon combined to lead 52 laps tonight and were in front before giving up the lead in the pits on their final stop on Lap 167. The fourth-place finish was their ninth top-five performance in 14 races this season. The championship marks Ganassi Racing's second team title in the last three seasons.

To round out a glorious night, the Michael Shank Racing #6 Playboy Racing Lexus-Riley driven by Mike Borkowski, Burt Frisselle and Brian Frisselle made it three Lexus-powered cars in the top five with a strong fifth-place finish. It marked the squad's eighth top-10 showing of the 2006 campaign.

Lexus has now won 15 races in 40 Rolex Series events since entering the series in 2004.

Notes:

- This year's Daytona Prototype Manufacturer's Championship is the first for Lexus since the luxury automaker entered road racing in 1999.

- Today's victory set Lexus' single-season high for wins with seven after winning five in 2004.

- Michael Shank Racing becomes the third different Lexus-powered team to win in Rolex

Sports Car Series competition, joining Ganassi Racing and Doran Racing.

- With the victory, Mark Patterson earned the Rolex Sports Car Series Jim Trueman Award.

- Four Lexus-powered drivers finished in the series overall top-10.JScott Pruett and Luis Diaz tied for second, while Mark Patterson was seventh and Oswaldo Negri ninth.

- In leading 85 of tonight's 193 laps, Lexus finishes the season with a series-high 978 laps this season.

Quotes:

Mark Patterson, #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley: "Many thanks to Lexus, Flight Options and to Mike Shank, he runs an absolutely fabulous team. It's amazing to be on the podium and surrounded by so much driving talent. The realization that we won this race hasn't even begun to sink in. Oz did an amazing job today and all season, and all credit goes to him and Mike Shank. We started the season off on the podium (a second at the Rolex 24), and its great to go one better to finish the season."

Oswaldo Negri, #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley: "We wanted to get Mike (Shank) his first win, to help Lexus win the championship, and to make sure Mark won the Trueman Award, and we did all three tonight so it's absolutely fantastic. Mark did a great job to keep us in contention up front during his stints, and we had a great last pit stop. Mike Shank has put together an unbelievable team and the support we get from Lexus is fantastic. I just want to thank my wife and kids and everyone who has had to put up with all the sacrifices we have to make to do this, but winning a race like this makes everything worth it. I'm just so happy I can't believe it."

Michael Shank, MSR team owner: "This is absolutely the best possible way for us to finish the season. Oz did a phenomenal job in that last stint, and we had some great pit stops to help him get up front. The Playboy car also had a great run and I just can't say how proud I am of all my guys, and how fortunate I feel to be racing in this series. It's so competitive and you have to have everything possible go right for you to even hope for a podium, and obviously to get a win, every aspect of what you do has to be flawless, and that's what we did tonight."

-credit: lexus

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