Archive for “June, 2014”

CORE Continues Endurance Win Streak at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 29, 2014) – CORE autosport flexed its endurance racing muscles again in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, winning the Prototype Challenge category at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. The Rock Hill, S.C.-based team has now won four of five races this season and the first three rounds of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

Prior to this week, CORE autosport’s only visit to Watkins Glen International was two days of testing in May. Though two of its three drivers (Colin Braun and James Gue) had raced at The Glen previously, none of them had experienced a race at the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course in a PC car.

Watkins Glen seemed like an old home for the CORE squad from the start though, as Braun put the No. 54 ORECA FLM09 on the PC pole Saturday. Starting duties on Sunday were given to James Gue, who kept the car in the top three through his stint. CORE was one of the last PC teams to pit, handing Gue the lead before he was finally called onto pit lane for a driver change. The quick work of the pit crew enabled Jon Bennett to return to the race in second place.

Bennett also did his best to keep the No. 54 in the top three throughout his two stints, but his forward progress was tempered by two full-course caution periods and a drive-through penalty for passing in a local yellow. This only dropped Bennett to fifth with a full three and a half hours remaining in the six-hour race.

Bennett handed the car back to Gue in fourth at the race’s halfway mark. Though he initially found himself stuck behind slower traffic, Gue was able to pick up another spot and ended his final stint in third. It was then up to Braun to bring the No. 54 home.

CORE’s “closer” didn’t disappoint. Braun was also tested by slower traffic, but once he found clear track he made a beeline for the lead and didn’t stop there. He built a comfortable enough margin to second-place that allowed the team to pit for full service without losing the lead. This came in handy, since the No. 54 required a splash of fuel to make it to the end. Better still, a late race full-course caution enabled them to make the splash under yellow and send Braun back out, lead still intact.

Though it wasn’t the full lap lead he had earlier in his stint, Braun crossed the finish line with a victory margin of more than eight seconds, even with a frantic last lap restart from yellow.

The victory is the second in-a-row for CORE autosport and its third-straight win in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, which is composed of the four longest races of the season (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans).

CORE has now extended its lead in the PC Team Championship to 17, as do Bennett and Braun in the PC Drivers’ Championship. The team and its drivers have also opened up a 10-point lead in the Patrón Endurance Cup.

The PC category does not follow the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship to its next round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, instead, the class will rejoin the Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, another new circuit for CORE, July 24 – 25.

 

“We have a script and a plan, and fortunately this weekend, we just followed the plan. It was another good result. I’m very, very happy for the team. They put in a lot of work, and I know they enjoy winning just as much as we do.

“I was in a pretty good dogfight with some GT Le Mans cars and had some momentum. I popped out to make a pass as I was heading through the Bus Stop. I think as I did that I was between corner worker stations and I noticed that everyone was going really slowly and I was going really fast. I looked down the road, and I saw we were under yellow. It must’ve come out just as I popped out, and I was either just past the flag station or in the middle of the pass, and I was hoping no one noticed. We had a drive through for that, and it got us a little behind, but we never lost our focus and just tried to strategize from that point forward.

“The unique part of this race was the number of yellows and twist-and-turns we had at the end, including a one-lap race to the finish. We are fortunate to have survived all those diversions and get the win.

“It was a stellar event here this weekend. It’s great to have James back on board. Tom Brown did a great job with the engineering and Colin obviously did a stellar job again in the car.”
– Jon Bennett

 

“It was a really good day for the CORE autosport guys. Jon and James did a great job and we had really good pit stops all day. I’m proud of the effort all the guys put in.

“When I got in, I was pretty much on attack from that point forward. We were up and down all through the day and it seemed like the cautions didn’t really fall our way. To come out on top makes me really happy for all these guys. They did a great job, and I’m really honored to be a part of this group.

“We had a really fast racecar, which is testament to the job the CORE team dd. Tom Brown did a really good job with the time we had here in May to test. We really utilized those test days well which helped us make good, smart changes.

“I thought everyone did a good job in traffic today, and I think that was reflected in the few number of cautions, in my opinion, for having that many cars on the track that are that competitive. I thought everybody did a good job and obviously it went pretty smooth for us.

“These CORE guys work their butts off, and that’s what I think separates these tight, spec classes like PC. It really comes down to detail and the things these guys do behind the scenes.”
– Colin Braun

 

 

“The race for me went very smoothly. It’s always a bit nerve racking having to start the car, especially since I’m really just here to help out on the long races. We’re always working towards getting Jon and Colin to the championship at the end of the year. The start went smoothly and I held station there at the front. I handed it off to Jon, and then got back in again without issues.

“The car was very good and even better the second time I got in. We got a little bit behind because of the drive-through penalty, but we were able to drive through the field very quickly and got back up to the top three before I handed it off to Colin.

“I’m really pleased with the weekend. CORE’s competitive edge is their organization and their ability to stick to a plan and follow through with it.  They’re able to deal with adversity and fix problems when they find them. They just stick with their plan and don’t get flustered when things don’t go as they thought they would.”
– James Gue

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braun Delivers Glen PC Pole to CORE autosport

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 28, 2014) – Following a 15-minute fast lap showdown, Colin Braun put the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 on Prototype Challenge pole for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. It is Braun’s second pole of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.

The PC class is making its debut at Watkins Glen International Raceway this weekend. Although Braun has prior race experience at The Glen and tested the No. 54 car here in May, today’s 15-minute qualifying session was the first head-to-head comparison with the rest of the PC field.

The top spot on the PC grid did not come without competition. Braun was in a three-way battle for the pole with former teammate Tom Kimber-Smith in the No. 25 and Ranger van der Zande in the No. 8. Braun was the first to break into the 1:40 range. He continued to improve with the rest of the field chasing his times and sealed the deal with a 1:40.562 (121.716 mph) as the checkered flag flew.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen marks the first time since Sebring that all four categories of the United SportsCar Championship are on track together. This means 55 cars in total are slated to take the track tomorrow. The race is also the third round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Championship, which CORE autosport currently leads along with its drivers Braun, Jon Bennett and James Gue.

The trio now ready for tomorrow’s six-hour race, which goes green at 11:15 am ET and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.

 

“It was a good qualifying session for us. The practice before that had quite a few red flags, so we struggled to get the track time and the setup changes done that we wanted to get through. Never the less, we got through and were able to get out there for qualifying and find a good gap and just put our heads down and get to work.
 
“It was a good job by all the guys. It’s the work that they do that really separates this team from the rest. It’s always good to have the pole, but when the flag drops tomorrow, I don’t think anyone is going to remember. It’s just about getting a good result in the race.
 
“I’ve had a good car since we unloaded off the truck. Even when we came here to test, we were pretty quick off the bat. We’ve been working through things we want to try and see and a get a direction on. We’ve been focused on making our car better.
 
“Tomorrow it’s going to be about staying out of trouble. It’s going to be busy with all the classes and cars and with this place being so quick. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of small mistakes. Once you go off the track, you’re in a guardrail essentially. It’s going to be about heads up driving and give-and-take early in the race. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of attrition by the time we get to the last few hours of the race.”

– Colin Braun

2014 Kansas

CORE Takes PC Point Lead to Watkins Glen

After a decisive win in the latest TUDOR United Sports Car Championship race at Kansas Speedway, CORE autosport heads to Watkins Glen International with a six-point lead in the Prototype Challenge Team and Drivers’ Championship. CORE is also the current leader in the Patrón North American Endurance Cup, a collection of the four longest races of the year. It could extend its lead there with a strong finish in the six-hour enduro at Watkins Glen.
Watkins Glen International is a legendary road course located in upstate New York, which hosted Formula 1 races for 20 years in the U.S. Although CORE autosport has never raced there previously, the team did undertake two days of testing in May at the 3.37-mile circuit.
The six-hour race marks the first time all four categories of the TUDOR Championship will be on course at the same time since the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, which ended in victory for CORE autosport. It also marks the return of James Gue to the driver lineup. Gue co-drove with Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in the Daytona and Sebring victories.
Noteworthy

  • Colin Braun has four previous starts at Watkins Glen driving in the GRAND-AM Daytona Prototype category with a best finish of ninth in 2006 and 2012.
  • Jon Bennett has never raced at Watkins Glen before.
  • James Gue has six starts at Watkins Glen including a win in the 2010 GRAND-AM sprint race. He earned a third-place finish in the six-hour race that same year.
  • CORE autosport leads the PC Team Championship by six points. Bennett and Braun have the same lead in the PC Drivers’ Championship.
  • CORE leads the Patrón North American Endurance Cup PC standings by seven points. Bennett and Braun have the same margin in the Patrón NAEC PC driver points.

“I have never raced at Watkins Glen. It is a track with a rich history and it will be a unique honor to see the track as if looking through the eyes of those legendary drivers who came before.

“Each event has its own unique set of challenges to be successful. Sometimes it’s the track, sometimes it’s the clock, sometimes it’s the weather. At the six-hour race at Watkins Glen, we will be challenged with all three. The track is fast and demanding. The six-hour length requires strategy and an endurance mindset. And, the weather at Watkins Glen can be a bit unpredictable. It is going to be a wonderful, challenging event. We are fortunate to have stellar engineering, strategy, and preparation resources at CORE autosport. I think the long races play to the strength of our team.

“We approach each race with a consistent process that only adapts to the needs of each unique event. We can control our process, while the results are dependent on combination of factors, many of which are not in our control. Our process is what we will be thinking about at Watkins Glen.”
– JON BENNETT

 

“My favorite thing about Watkins Glen is that it’s a fast, flowing, old-school race track. It’s like Road America. You can really get in a rhythm and be out there for what feels like a short time, but turns out to be quite a long time.

“The good news is we had a chance to test there in May. That’s an advantage for us, because it’s a pretty tough race track and the PC teams have never been there before. It was really helpful to have two days of testing to better understand what we’ll be in for. I think it’s a track that doesn’t need any one particular thing, it just needs a little bit of everything. You have to have a car that’s good in high and low speed sections and a car that brakes well. The track is a great blend of different types of corners and elevation changes. It’s definitely a challenging track and it’s tough from a driver and setup standpoint.

“From a time standpoint, it’s a long race, but when you look at all of these races, there all pretty similar, because no matter the distance, you have to be there in the end. Even though Kansas was an hour and a half race, it was the same plan; you have to be smart in the first stint and get yourself in a spot to win at the end of the race. I think this race will be no different. It’s certainly longer, but it’s the same strategy regardless.”
– COLIN BRAUN

CORE Takes Split Race Win in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (June 8, 2014) – In a unique format at Kansas Speedway that featured two, 45-minute race segments, a clean run for Jon Bennett combined with a dominating performance by Colin Braun to give CORE autosport its third TUDOR United SportsCar Championship win of the season.
 

The latest round of the TUDOR Championship gave the Prototype Challenge class a staring role at Kansas Speedway and a format unlike anything the category has attempted before. The PC cars combined with the IMSA Prototype Lites series for a race divided into two 45-minute segments. As the bronze-ranked driver, Bennett was required to start the first segment and Braun the second segment.
 

Bennett qualified the car fifth on Friday evening with no track time prior to the 15-minute qualifying session. When the green flag dropped for the first race segment, Bennett had the throttle timed perfectly and jumped up to third. A full course-yellow was issued shortly after the start, but Bennett’s restart was not as precise this time and the No. 54 ORECA FLM09 dropped to seventh.
 

He circulated the 2.37-mile, 8-turn road course/oval in seventh for most of the race until the third and final full-course caution was issued, packing the field back up. The race went back to green and with 13 minutes remaining and Bennett advanced to sixth. He picked up one more spot, moving to fifth when a car in the lead pack spun.
 

Crossing the finish line in fifth meant that co-driver Braun would start the second race segment in fifth at 10:15 pm local time.
 

In part two, Braun wasted no time moving the No. 54 to the front of the field. After a phenomenal start, he was into the race lead by lap two with a textbook pass on the inside of Turn One. He began to build a sturdy lead back to second place, but it was erased by the race’s only full-course yellow.
 
The race restarted with 17 minutes remaining and Braun had no trouble defending his lead into Turn One. From there, he was untouchable, slicing through traffic and pulling away for a win by 4.652 seconds.
 
It was the perfect ending to a day that began by hosting the race’s Grand Marshal, three-year old Maxton Prill from nearby Topeka. The young race fan was diagnosed with Leukemia in November of 2013 and returned to the race track for the first time since his diagnosis to give the start engines command.
 
The win at Kansas is the third in four races for CORE autosport and strengthens the team’s lead in the PC Team Championship as well as Bennett and Braun’s lead in the Driver Championship.
Next up for CORE autosport is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, June 27 – 29.
 

“The start was action packed. It was mix of being aggressive and defensive. I had a great start and worked my way up to P3. Unfortunately, there was another full-course caution right after. I’m starting to learn a little bit about these full-course restarts and you have to be really accurate on the throttle.
 

“I minded my own business and ran really good laps. We settled out in P5 with a square car. I didn’t touch anything out there and it should be a good place for Colin to start tonight.
 

“I’d be reeling in fourth place but then there’d be little distractions along the way, like cautions flags with a situation on the other side of a blind corner, and I didn’t want to get caught up in something I didn’t deserve to be caught up in. Ultimately we settled into a place we think is a good starting point for Colin and I’m very happy with the result.
 

“It was okay racing with the IMSA Lites. They were all very polite in terms of yielding to faster traffic. There wasn’t much unusual about racing with them, so I’d say it was a successful combination.”

– JON BENNETT

“It was interesting the way the format worked this weekend, having a race split in two. It was good in one way because I could sit down and pick Jon’s brain on how the first race went. I knew a little bit about what to expect and was able to build a little bit of a game plan based on what he told me. I was prepared for the start of the race to go one of two ways; either everybody would end up double file into Turn One, or we’d stack up, which is what happened. I was fortunate that I picked the path of least resistance, teed it up and was able to get by most of the guys in the first corner.
 

“You never know which way the traffic situation is going to go down. I was trying to build a little bit of a gap so that I could save my tires and have something left at the end of the race. I was trying to be patient and manage the risks. I thought the IMSA Lites guys did a really good job overall.
 

“Winning the race was the goal when we came in here. We knew it was going to be a challenging weekend when we got here with Jon not getting here until 15 minutes before qualifying. It was really cool for him to be able to see his son graduate, fly here, qualify and then us winning the race tonight. It’s a good weekend for everyone and I’m looking forward to the next one.”

– COLIN BRAUN

Bennett Puts CORE Fifth on Kansas Grid

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (June 6, 2014) – In the team’s first visit to Kansas Speedway, Jon Bennett qualified the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 fifth for Saturday’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race featuring the Prototype Challenge class.
 
Bennett had the dubious honor of taking to the track for qualifying without having turned a single lap in practice. The 15-minute qualifying session was his first glimpse of the 2.37-mile road-course/oval. When forced to choose between his son’s high school graduation in Rock Hill, S.C., and the opening rounds of Kansas practice, Bennett chose his son Austin’s graduation. He hopped on a plane with his son immediately after the ceremony and arrived at the track shortly before qualifying at 10:45 pm local time.
Without any previous experience on the circuit, Bennett used the qualifying session to get his bearings. He qualified an impressive fifth place in his first-ever TUDOR qualifying session with a lap of 1:12.597 (117.526 mph).
 
The format for the Kansas event is different from anything the PC class has encountered before. Not only is the class combined with the IMSA Prototype Lites field, but Saturday’s race will be split into two 45-minute segments. Jon will start the No. 54 in the first segment at 4:15 pm CT. The second segment will grid based on the finishing positions from the first segment and will not start until 10:15 pm. Co-driver Colin Braun, who led all three practice sessions at Kansas Speedway on Friday, will drive the second segment. Points will be awarded to both drivers based on the finishing position from the second segment.
 
Saturday’s Grand Prix of Kansas will not be televised, but live timing and scoring is available at IMSA.com.

“My day’s been pretty strange. I just arrived at the track about 30 minutes ago. I’m very fortunate for all the work done by my co-driver Colin Braun and by Tom Brown on the engineering side. I had a very pleasant car to drive. After about two laps, you figure out which way to go and the rest is just polishing. I would have liked to qualify a little bit higher, but the class is grouped pretty tightly. All in all I’m pleased with how things went.
 
“I think I could probably find another half-second. It’s tempting fate going deeper and deeper into the slow corners and better understanding the brake points. More importantly, if you miss a brake point, how do you fix it without losing time? Those are the subtleties that come with more track time.
 
“It’s a cool track and bit more interesting than I was expecting to see. I realized this track is banked, but it’s a flatter banking than what we’ve run before and it generates a lot of lateral force. It’s pretty fun actually!
 
“I always believe that when it rains, it rains for all of us. It’s always about searching for the limit of the car; and wet or dry, it’s still the same objective. If it rains, that’d be fine.”
– JON BENNETT

CORE Makes First Trip to Kansas

CORE autosport returns to the track for Round Four of the TUDOR United SportsCar Prototype Challenge Championship, June 6 – 7, at Kansas Speedway. The weekend brings a new track and new format for PC class.

Neither CORE nor any other PC team has tackled the 2.37-mile combination road course/oval at Kansas Speedway before. They will combine with the IMSA Lites series for a race that will be broken into two segments. The silver-rated driver (Jon Bennett) will qualify the car and drive for the race’s first segment. The gold-ranked driver (Colin Braun) will drive the second segment to take place five hours later. The running order at the conclusion of the first segment will carry over to the second segment and the finish position for the second segment determines how points will be awarded to both drivers and the team. Neither segment will have scheduled pit stops.

NOTEWORTHY

  • Colin Braun has raced the Kansas Speedway oval in the NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series, but has not raced the ‘roval’ configuration.
  • Jon Bennett has never raced at Kansas before.
  • CORE autosport leads the PC Team Championship by three points. Bennett and Braun have the same lead in the PC Drivers’ Championship.
  • Braun will visit the University of Kansas Hospital on June 5 in support of IMSA’s charity partner: the Austin Hatcher Foundation.
  • The team will welcome 3yr-old Kansan Maxton Prill as an honorary crew member as he courageously fights Leukemia.

“The first thing to do for a new track, is to look it up on iRacing and hope it’s there. If you can’t find a good simulation of the track, you try to compare it to something you’ve been to before. Besides a good simulator or a test day, you just have to go with your gut. For me, probably after five or six laps you’ve calculated your brake points and gear changes. After the fifth lap, it’s polishing.
 

“There are many groundbreaking aspects to our race in Kansas. For starters, it will be interesting to see how the IMSA Lites and the LMPC cars race together. I have had a chance to drive both machines and I always felt the performance of the IMSA Lites cars were on par with the larger PC prototype. I will enjoy the opportunity to qualify the car and the chance to compete in a short sprint race with my peers. Once my work is done, it will be Colin’s turn to go head-to-head with the best driver’s in our category.
 

“I am confident we will have another strong result in Kansas. My proudest moment of the weekend will be watching my son Austin graduate from high school Friday night in Rock Hill, SC. Then, qualifying the LMPC car three hours later in Kansas will be a race in itself for me.”
– JON BENNETT

“Racing the PC car at Kansas should be a good time. I love going to new tracks and learning their layout and nuances. As a driver, it’s always fun to be challenged like that. Kansas isn’t totally new to me. I’ve raced the oval in my NASCAR Trucks and Nationwide days, but this will be the first time I’ve been on the road course. I’m expecting it to be a bit like Daytona, the only other ‘roval’ style track we race.
 
“I think this being a new track puts all the teams on a level playing field, but at the same time the guys at CORE are always very well prepared and that is critical at new tracks – doing your research and having a Plan A and a Plan B. It’s that kind of well-executed game plan that has served CORE well over the last three years.
 
“I think with the format that was announced, it’s a cool opportunity certainly for the silver-ranked drivers to be able to qualify the cars. I personally love to qualify, but I think it’s neat that we’re giving the silver guys an opportunity to do it. The first part sets the grid for the second part, which becomes the ‘main event’ essentially, so it’s one race split in two.”
– COLIN BRAUN

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