AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 20, 2014) – CORE autosport brought its best game to Circuit of the Americas for a Prototype Challenge showdown at the Lone Star Le Mans. The team emerged with a second-place finish, clinching the PC Driver’s Championship in the inaugural season of the TUDOR United SportsCar Series.
Starting second on the grid, Jon Bennett maintained a solid run and a spot in the top five throughout his stint, despite a harried start. Bennett did a good job anticipating the green flag, but unfortunately race officials did not approve of the formation of the Prototype front row and waved off the start. The race was finally underway after a second start attempt, but it was not as kind to Bennett, who experienced contact with another PC competitor in the opening laps.
Bennett was running fifth in class when the only full-course caution of the two-hour and 45-minute race came for debris at Turn 19. The pits remained closed during the full-course caution, forcing the team to pit as soon as the green flag re-emerged. Bennett handed the car off to Braun in fourth place.
Braun was making progress through the field when a GTD car made contact with the No. 54 ORECA FLM09. The hit briefly slowed Braun who fell to third. He quickly recovered from the incident and moved into the PC class lead.
Shortly thereafter, while defending his lead in Turn 1, Braun made contact with the No. 25 8STAR car driven by Sean Rayhall. Race officials deemed Braun to be at fault for the incident and issued the No. 54 a drive-through penalty. After serving the penalty, Braun returned to track in in fourth place.
The remaining race brought a fierce shootout between the PC top three with No. 25 in first, No. 54 in second and No. 08 in third. All three teams completed full service pits stops at the same time and re-emerged in the same order.
Braun remained quick all the way to the end, capturing a runner-up finish. The podium spot gave Bennett and Braun the points needed to clinch the PC Driver’s Championship a round early. It is the first Driver’s Championship for both.
The Lone Star Le Mans will re-air on FOX Sunday, Sept. 20, around NFL coverage. Check you local listings for air times.
CORE autosport must now focus on capturing its fourth-straight PC Team Championship at the TUDOR United SportsCar season finale: Petit Le Mans. The 10-hour race goes green at 11:15 am ET and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 2.
“The race was pretty eventful and pretty uneventful. Jon did a great job, and we were lucky enough early on to make the minimum drive time, like everybody else. Jon came in, in a good spot, and we were able to get back out in a good spot. I got clipped by a [GTD] Porsche in traffic and then [Sean] Rayhall got by me. Then going out of Turn 1, Rayhall seemed to get pretty sideways and I tried to avoid him, which we ended up getting a penalty for. I don’t think I touched him, but they obviously wanted me to do that penalty, so that was that. We had to serve a drive-through and had a pretty big deficit, but we were able to make it up.
“With the drivers championship on the line, we had to finish first or second, so once we got into second we were pretty conservative in terms of saving fuel to make sure we made it to the end. We would’ve hated to run out and give up the championship. We got really close there at the end, but I’m really proud of the guys who made up a huge deficit. We certainly had a fast car and a job well done. Goals were accomplished by winning the championship today, and now we can focus on winning the race at Petit.
“It’s great to be able to deliver a driver championship for Jon. We’ve been co-drivers for the past couple years and have certainly been close. I’m really proud of the effort he’s done and that the guys have done, and I’m happy to be able to deliver this for everybody. It’s been a long time coming.”
– COLIN BRAUN
“We have a pretty solid process about how to approach a race weekend. We all know our jobs, and we don’t get overly focused on the results. We all just try to do a good job at what we’re doing and see where the results fall. It’s a formula that’s worked all season for us.
“Always at the start there’s a certain amount of anticipation of being both aggressive and also being careful and keeping in mind what our overall goal is for the day. There was a little bit of contact and a little bit of risk management. At the end, my goal is always to hand Colin a straight car in striking distance of the lead. I was able to do that. It was really going according to plan until some bad fortune struck Colin with a little bit of a questionable call. Deciding who’s at fault is a difficult task. It all worked out in the end though, and I’m happy we were able to capture the Driver’s Championship. I’m sure we’ll have a successful Petit Le Mans and will be celebrating in October.”
– JON BENNETT