The legendary streets of Long Beach put up quite a fight for the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix and the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Amidst the largest Long Beach grid in IMSA history, Jon Bennett and Colin Braun were able to advance one spot from their qualifying position.
Starting from 15th in the GT Daytona class, Bennett took on opening race driving duties in the No. 54 Composite Resources / Flex-Box / Micro WaterJet Porsche 911 GT3 R. Bennett expertly navigated the concrete lined street course and avoided the melees, which brought out a total of four full-course cautions during his stint.
Following his teammate’s lead, Braun took over the wheel nearly halfway through the 100-minute sprint race and executed a solid run. The short race length, copious amounts of traffic and another full-course caution period made it difficult to advance, but Braun picked up one spot before crossing the finish line 14th.
The team now heads to Braun’s home state for the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Show Down at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The event weekend runs May 4 through May 6 and features a two hour and 40 minute race around the 3.4-mile circuit.
No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“The starts here at Long Beach are always interesting. That’s the beauty of a street course – the confined space and lots of traffic. Unfortunately, this year the tail of the field got a bit strung out from the start of the field. I was a bit disappointed to not be able to completely pack up before the start of the race. Luckily, a yellow was part of the start too and that basically allowed a second chance at a start.
“On the restart, things were going very well. I was running with the GTD field and I was competitive. I lost a few positions, but in general, we ran with the pace of the GTD field. We were holding our own and waiting for some good pit stops and to get Colin in the car to move up the order. Our program is getting stronger and we’re all getting more familiar with the GT3 R. I’m looking forward to COTA to see if we can move the car up, and I really think we have the potential to do so.”
No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“The biggest challenge today was that it was such a short race. We got trapped a lap down early in the race, and at that point, everyone had made their last pit stops. The pit-stop window for GTD cars is about an hour under green. Once everyone made their pit stops, we were trapped a lap down. It is pretty impossible to get your lap back at that point because there are no more pit stops and you can’t get a wave-by. It’s also tough to balance a street course. You have to race and do your part while respecting the other guys that are on the lead lap and racing for position. We had a pretty decent car in terms of pace there at the end. We had better pace than some of the guys that were running in the top five. It felt like we would have had a top five car had we had some luck and things fall our way. We made it to the end, and we’re definitely improving.”