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