Braun, Bennett Head West in Search of Third Win

C.Braun

Colin Braun and Jon Bennett hope to make it three wins in a row to open the season in Sunday's Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. (Photo: Courtesy of IMSA)

As the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship heads to California for the second time this season, it’s a young driver with NASCAR roots in the southeastern United States and a hometown in Texas currently atop the Prototype Challenge standings.

Geographically, 25-year-old Colin Braun has the map covered.  He’s had his competition covered, too, so far this year with the No. 54 CORE autosport entry winning its class in each of the first two rounds.

Braun and co-driver Jon Bennett will attempt to make it three-for-three in Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif.

They’re among the 10 PC teams and 56 overall entries across four classes expected to tackle the 2.238-mile, 11-turn natural road course.  Despite his early-season success, Braun – who grew up in Ovalo, Texas – knows there’s more work to be done.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us and the expectations have been set pretty high,” said Braun, who was named 2008 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year while driving for team owner Jack Roush.  “We need to stay motivated and keep pressing forward.  When you start resting on your laurels, that’s when everyone else starts catching up.”

Braun & Co. – currently holding a 12-point advantage in the standings – finished a full lap ahead of their competitors in winning the PC class in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona International Raceway.  They topped the podium again seven weeks later in the 12 Hours of Sebring, placing in the overall top 10 in each race.

The Prototype Challenge class utilizes standard chassis, tires and components that are common among all competitors … which leaves Braun to marvel even further at CORE autosport’s early-season success.

“It comes down to having a good team that can set up the cars well, with good race strategy,” he said, coyly adding “and good drivers.  This is a really great class because it is a spec series … tires, brakes, suspensions and shock packages.  So it makes a class that’s really exciting for fans to watch.”

But one that’s nerve-wracking for competitors, according to Braun:

“It all makes for racing that is just cutthroat because we’re all in the same thing.”

There are 12 entries in the Prototype class at Laguna.  Daytona Prototype teams entered in the series’ top division are facing a reduction of between 10 and 14 horsepower for Sunday’s race as IMSA officials continue to strive for an equitable balance of power in the aftermath of last year’s merger between GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series.

Corvette DPs, including the class-leading Action Express Racing entry for Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, will compete with a one-millimeter smaller air restrictor, reducing air flow to the engine.  Ford EcoBoost engines’ restrictor will be nine-tenths of a millimeter smaller.  Ford entries also will have a slight reduction in boost for their twin turbochargers.

In addition to Prototype and Prototype Challenge competition this week, there’ll be GT Le Mans and GT Daytona cars also onsite.  Sunday’s event will be split into a pair of two-hour races, with PC and GTD competitors leading off.

TUDOR United SportsCar Championship teams will open practice at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday morning with qualifying at 7:55 p.m. (ET).  Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of both races in Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, with air times at 1:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. – and live streaming at MRN.com.

Race Center

Road America

@ Road America
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Radio Start:
MRN, 4:45 p.m. (ET)

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