DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Ozz Negri was only slow getting in and out of his race car.
Negri returned to his car Saturday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a noticeable limp from his still-healing broken right leg. He was injured last month during offseason training when he fell of a mountain bike, and the cast was removed six days before the start of the biggest race on the Grand-Am schedule.
He drove one stint — about 50 minutes — for defending race champion Michael Shank Racing, the team he races for full-time in the Grand-Am Series.
"We are taking it conservative 'cause we've got all the season ahead of us," Negri said. "We don't want to overdo it and mess up the rest of the championship. It was a bummer. It was something that nobody was expecting to happen."
Negri and Grand-Am teammate John Pew teamed with NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson last year to win the Rolex for the first time for Shank. It was MSR's only win of the season, and Negri and Pew finished ninth in the season standings.
Shank this year had NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose test the car earlier this month in place of Negri, and Ambrose is part of the official lineup this year. He'll likely get a good deal of time in the car because Negri doesn't want to do too much too soon.
He starts rehabilitation on his leg Monday.
"Whatever they need, I will be there for them," said Negri, who admitted the month on the sideline was difficult. "The hardest thing is you keep positive. It's like a roller coaster, really. There were days I was feeling great. I never broke any bone, so it's all new to me. Anything I felt different, I felt a little setback.