In his first Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car race in 1999, Joao Barbosa earned a class win at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. He went on to score class poles in his next three races. Since then, his career has been inextricably linked to sports car racing and IMSA.
But it was not until his time with Brumos Racing in 2007 that Barbosa claims as the true turning point in his career.
“The most defining moment of my career was when I moved to the U.S. and started racing with Brumos Racing,” Barbosa told the NASCAR America crew on Thursday. “I was able to do some races with Hurley Haywood. Then I was probably the right time in the right spot, which doesn’t happen very often with me – when Hurley decided to retire from racing and I was there. And they said, ‘why don’t you just jump into Hurley’s seat.’ ”
In the Rolex Grand-Am Series, Barbosa scored 12 wins. Since the series has become the Weathertech Sports Car Championship Series, he’s added nine more with at least one win per year in the first five seasons.
“IMSA has been the most important part of my career … that’s where my career has been; that’s where my heart has been. I couldn’t be in a better spot to race right now,” Barbosa said.
The 2019 campaign did not get off to the start he wanted. Experiencing technical issues at the beginning of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, he ultimately lost 20 laps to the lead and finished seventh in class.
“Last year, we had a really good Rolex 24 – we won the race – we had a terrible Sebring 12 Hour race,” Barbosa said. “This year, we had a not-so-good 24 so hopefully we’ll catch up on Sebring.”
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