Ed Negre, gave Dale Earnhardt first break in NASCAR, dies

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Ed Negre, who owned the first car that the late Dale Earnhardt ever raced in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, passed away Wednesday in a hospice in Longview, Wash., according to a report in the Charlotte Observer.

Negre was 86.

Competing primarily on a part-time basis, Negre raced in 338 events in NASCAR’s Grand National and Winston Cup series from 1955 through 1979. While he never won a race in the series, he had four top-five and 26 top-10 finishes.

His best season was 1971, when he competed in 43 of 48 races, earned two top-10 finishes and wound up 12th in the final Grand National Series standings.

His career-best finish was fourth at Portland Speedway (Oregon) in 1956.

According to Tom Higgins, retired NASCAR writer at The Observer,

Negre is perhaps best known for providing a car to a young, shy, long-haired driver from Kannapolis named Earnhardt for his first Cup Series start, at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 1975, in the World 600.

Earnhardt finished 22nd that day, Negre was 32nd.

Earnhardt continued on to a storied career, winning seven championships to tie Richard Petty’s record before he was killed in a last-lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500.

Negre always took pride in what he called a ‘small part’ in helping Earnhardt get started, saying he sensed Earnhardt had what it took to make it big.”

Negre moved from North Carolina to Washington state after the 1979 racing season and opened a trucking firm.

He is survived by wife Faye. The couple were married 59 years. Also surviving are four daughters and a son, Norman, who is head of fabrication for Stewart-Haas Racing, while Norman’s son Scott (Ed’s grandson) is a team engineer at SHR.

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Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

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