Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week, Ozz Negri looks back on his 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall win, where he keeps his Rolex from that race, and the legacy of Continental Tire in IMSA.
What were you expectations coming into the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona?
“Every time I raced at Daytona my expectations were to win the race. In 2012 that was even more the case because I had my teammates from 2006, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson, racing with me and John Pew.
“We were so well engaged, we were working like a Swiss watch.”
What memories do you have of the race itself?
“I remember everything, lots of details. I remember Mike Shank asking me to do an extra stint and saying how important it was to hand the car to AJ in the front.
“I had a great battle with Allan McNish and had the car in the lead. That felt good.
“Watching AJ last stint was like another 24 hours. He also was having an epic battle with McNish.
“We had been so close to wining Daytona so many times, but 2012 I had a very strong feeling we would get those Rolex watches.
“Another incredible moment was when my daughter Ana jumped the security fence run to the podium while we were getting the trophies and gave me such an amazing hug, and you know I love hugs!”
How significant was that win for your career?
“It was my biggest race win for sure. It was a super hard-fought race from green flag to, 24 hours later, the checkered flag.
“I left everything I had on the track that day, along with Justin, John, and AJ. What a team. I feel so blessed to have won Daytona with those guys.”
What do you do with your Rolex that you won in that race?
“That Rolex to me is my most precious trophy and I keep it on a very special place. I wear it only on special occasion. It’s so beautiful, you have no idea!”
For you, what is the legacy of Continental Tire’s time in sports car racing?
“They are the best sponsor or partner I met in all my racing years: 110% committed to the series and competitors, 110% committed to provide us the safest and best product.
“I became a big fan of Continental tires and their people, who were always so committed to our racing and with big smile.”