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BRAUN: Daytona Debrief

Colin Braun reflects back on his dramatic end to the Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their kind messages. Thankfully, I am totally fine. I think it’s great that the CORE autosport guys build such a safe racecar.

I think we always talk about how great our teams are, but things like this really make you appreciate all the hard work that those guys put into the little details and safety items.

Things like putting foam pieces in different places and making sure they cover up sharp edges—it shows attention to detail and a lot of times we all gloss over and don’t think about it too much.

When something like our crash at Daytona happens, it makes you appreciate the details. It’s a testament to the work of the CORE guys that I’m not really too banged up.

The sports car community was really supportive and concerned about me. It struck me as a kind of funny though that they were like ‘Wow, that was a big hit I hope you’re okay,’ but compared to some of the crashes I’ve had in my NASCAR days that wasn’t too big really.

Since they didn’t catch it on TV, I’ll run down how I ended up on fire in the wall with 20 minutes to go.

We were just running through the laps at the end of the race in the lead. We had a little bit of a gap over Tom [Kimber-Smith] and we were trying to be smart in traffic.

I went to make a move on a slow prototype car. It was a pretty easy pass. I’m not sure what happened in the next corner, if the guy missed his brake marker or what, but he got into the right, rear corner of my car pretty hard and spun me around.

Unfortunately, it bent a piece of suspension in the back. I was able to get going and transitioned into the Bus Stop and everything felt okay, but as I got onto the banking, the suspension broke completely and pitched me into the wall.

It seemed to me, from where I was sitting, that it took awhile for the safety trucks to get there. While I was sitting there I could see the fire and thought it was a small oil fire not too close to where I was sitting.

When I came to a stop, I pushed the fire bottle in the car and at that point it took awhile for the caution to come out. Once it was out there were still a bunch of cars going by at full speed to catch the pack, like you normally would.

I didn’t want to step out of the car and risk someone getting into my debris or oil and maybe crash into me while I was climbing out of the car. I wanted to stay in the car for as long as I could.

It was a pretty dangerous spot to be in and I knew the fire wasn’t going to erupt. I wanted to wait until either I couldn’t breathe in all the smoke or until the safety guys got there and I felt more comfortable getting out of the car.

I’m sure the length of response time is something that IMSA will look at and address.

Up until that incident we had a really strong race going. All of the guys, Jon, Mark and James, did a good job driving the car.

We had a pretty trouble-free race going at that point. We had a few unlucky breaks with some tire punctures that cost us a few laps, but other than that we were on a tight little plan. Everything was going really well.

I’m not really sure if it’s funny or not just yet, but it’s pretty cool when you can crash out of the race in a big way, catch on fire and still finish on the podium.

That’s very fitting for a team like CORE, who never gives up, to go through all that and be on the podium.

All and all it was disappointing to not win the race with the position that we were in at the end.

At the same time, if you can come out of the 24 Hours at Daytona with a podium finish, it bodes well for the season. We’re feeling fortunate right now to come out of there with third place points.

Colin Braun (@colinbraun) is a sports car racing standout and former NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series driver, currently racing with CORE autosport in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship

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