CORE autosport led more laps than any other GT Daytona car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but a late pit stop for a splash of fuel resulted in a fourth-place finish in the America’s Tire 250. It is the highest WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD finish to-date for the team.
Starting from 14th on the grid, Jon Bennett left the pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3s behind him in the dust and set off to catch the 13th-place car. He nearly had it, when several early pit stops from other cars promoted him to 11th. That’s where he handed the car to teammate Colin Braun, 45 minutes into the two-hour and 40-minute race.
Thirty minutes later, the race’s first and only full-course caution was issued. Just before the flags came out, Braun dove into pit lane for a full-service stop. It was a keen strategy move, as it allowed the No. 54 Flex-Box / Composite Resources Porsche 911 GT3 R to advance up to third, while the rest of the GTD field pitted.
When the race restarted, Braun only needed a handful of laps to take over the class lead. From there it was a race of fuel consumption. With no further full-course cautions in the remaining 65 minutes, CORE was unable to make it the distance without a splash for fuel.
Braun hit pit lane with three minutes to go. The quick work of the CORE pit crew had Braun back out in fourth-place for the finish. It is the highest GTD finish for CORE in its debut season in the class.
The IMSA season will come to a close in two-week’s time at Road Atlanta with the 10-hour Petit Le Mans, October 5 – 7.
“There are lot a positives from today. It’s very exciting to see the whole team optimized. I have to say the weak link for a lot of the season has been me, but today I was really happy with my first stint. The team backed it up with a stellar day. It was fun to watch the No. 54 back on top of the charts for most of the afternoon. Had we been a tad bit luckier, it may have turned into the ideal scenario. We are progressing race after race, and I’m so proud of the engineering, strategy and pit stops. Everything all around was totally optimized. It’s a wonderful thing to see.”
“We had a great strategy and Jon did a great job driving in the first stint. His driving was awesome. We had good stops. We made a good call to dive in to the pits when we saw that car spin. We knew we would be a little bit short on fuel. But, we knew it could work if we got a yellow or if things fell a way that we could be in the mix. I tried to save fuel as I much as I could while holding the lead.
“We were really hoping for a yellow near the end, but all-in-all, to come back and finish in fourth is a big improvement. Jon’s pace all weekend was great and that’s a huge contribution to finishing where we did. The guys did a great job on the pit stops.”