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BRAUN: Kansas Debrief

CORE autosport’s Colin Braun files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

What a great weekend getting win number three for CORE autosport in Kansas!

For me it started on Thursday with a hospital visit for the Austin Hatcher Foundation. I’ve done quite a few hospital visits in my career and they’re always a little bit sad, because you know these kids are sick and you never want to see anybody in that position.

But on the other hand, it’s inspiring to see their attitudes and their approach to life. It makes you thankful for what you have and certainly gives you perspective.

My favorite part was building superfast Pinewood Derby cars with the kids. Team Colin was killing it, I had 3 great kids on my team, all with identical cars! I’m like the CORE autosport of Pinewood Derby cars.

I’d raced the oval at Kansas before in my NASCAR days, but never the road course. For me, if you look at Kansas on paper, it looks really simple and easy with essentially four corners, but I learned never to judge a book by its cover.

After a couple runs in the car, I realized that it’s a lot more technical and there’s a lot of nuances about being fast there that I didn’t expect. It’s amazing the small things you can do there to find speed.

It was kind of a cool area too with a lot of stuff to do outside the track. I even went over to the casino to kill some time on Thursday night. I put a $1 bill in the penny slot machine and four pulls later I get the mega jackpot and won 4800 pennies, so I was pretty stoked about that!

When we were doing our track walk on Thursday, we started talking about a spotter helping us with traffic and we all sort of looked at each other and realized we didn’t have a spotter! Luckily, my dad was already at the track anyway and volunteered to spot for us. He did a really good job up there.

He’s had experience; he was a spotter for us at Laguna Seca and throughout my NASCAR career he’s listened along to a lot of the top spotters. He was a great helping hand to have.

Jon was in Rock Hill watching his son graduate high school and couldn’t make it to the track until qualifying, so I did all the practice sessions.

Thankfully it’s always seemed like Jon and I want the same setup on our race cars. When I’m happy, he’s happy and vice versa. That makes it easy to set our race car up; it’s a strength that we have as a team, we strive for the same things in the car and we don’t have to compromise.

Having the race split into two parts was very unusual for the TUDOR series, but that’s what had to be done to combine us with IMSA Lites since they don’t pit.

Our race team will always try to adapt and execute any given format the Series throws at us, but me personally, I think we’re an endurance sportscar series and so the format felt out of character. I think some aspects of the event were a bit challenging for the teams and fans to wrap their heads around.

During Jon’s race, I went up to the spotter’s stand and was able to really see how the whole race played out. I watched how the PC cars raced with the IMSA Lites cars and got an idea about the flow of the race.

I wanted to see how the restarts went, when the guys were accelerating on starts and restarts, where guys were going two-wide, where good passing opportunities were, how the Lites cars were letting the PC cars go in traffic, things like that. I just watched and filed it in my memory bank.

Now normally, Jon and I only pass each other going in and out of the car during a driver change, so there’s not much time to chat. This time we essentially had a four-hour driver change between the two race segments. We talked, left the track, got something to eat, came back and watched some racing and then I got in the car.

We talked about how his race went and what sort of things that he picked up and learned. It really helped me put together a plan as to what I thought would happen in our portion of the race. You really can’t plan a race, but in my segment at Kansas it seemed to work!

You know, we came out of the Laguna race still pretty positive. Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go, but Jon was fast and I was fast. We did our best not to let that get us down.

I believe one of the signs of a championship-winning race team is how you rebound from bad results, so to come back from Laguna and lead every practice and win the race in Kansas shows what kind of team CORE autosport is.

We’re all looking forward to six hours of racing at The Glen.

Colin Braun (@colinbraun) is a sports car racing standout and former NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series driver, driving for Meyer Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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