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NEGRI: Long Beach Debrief

Ozz Negri files his latest Sportscar365 column after Long Beach…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

After the two longest races of our IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season at Daytona and Sebring, we headed to the shortest one at Long Beach for Round 3.

The three are totally different tracks and Long Beach is one of my favorite street courses.

We went right into practice early Friday morning and right from the beginning of the first session, I could tell that all the hard work our Michael Shank Racing team had been putting in had paid off.

Our Acura NSX GT3 felt really good and inspired a lot of confidence. And to be able to attack the corners on a street course you have to have that confidence.

We made a change for Friday afternoon’s second practice session that didn’t work well and because qualifying was held just 10 minutes after that session was over, we did not have enough time to go back on the change.

I was disappointed that I qualified 12th, but I was optimistic – knowing that we had a lot more pace in the car for the race.

The start of the race was mega strange. I was looking forward to try and gain some positions on the start but everyone was so spread out at the drop of the green flag that I never got a chance to challenge going into Turn 1.

With Long Beach being a 100-minute race, track position was key and with that in mind, I was able to move up to ninth by the first full course caution.

We were anticipating some yellow flags during the race, but not as many as we ended up having. We were committed to a strategy and got caught out a few times by the wrong timing of the yellow flags.

Nevertheless, the team did a great job on the pit stops and Jeff (Segal) was able to climb to P6, which would have been an amazing result for us and great points for the championship.

Unfortunately, it only lasted until the final corner on the last lap when our car got hit going in into the hairpin.

I just could not believe it!!!!!! We were so close. So much effort put in and it was all gone.

I was extremely disappointed but at the same time proud and happy with the progress that we had made with our Acura NSX GT3.

There is no looking back, now my focus is COTA.

Ozz Negri (@OzzNegri) is the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona race winner, driving for Michael Shank Racing and Acura in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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