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BRAUN: Monterey Debrief

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

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Well it was Jon Bennett’s birthday on Monday. It would have been nice to give him a win, but to finish on the podium and take over the point lead is a CORE, championship-caliber performance and I’m excited about that.

I’m really proud of Jon and his qualifying effort and race pace at Laguna. It doesn’t look like 50 has slowed Jon down any!

We all love coming to Monterey. There’s a good fan base there that always make it out to the track. There’s a lot of cool restaurants and the weather is very nice.

The track itself is a fun race track. It’s challenging though with the wind and all the sand they have around the outside of the track instead of grass.

It’s always a little bit ever-changing. It makes me appreciate not being a motorcycle rider, coming up on a patch of dust at speed!

Last year at Laguna, IMSA split up the four classes into two races, so the Prototypes and GTLM cars had their own race and we raced separately with the GTD cars.

This year was the first time they put all of us together at the same time and in my opinion, this is the way to do it.

If I’m being honest, the knock against sportscar racing is that it’s confusing and when we have some events with only certain classes racing or two separate races, it just adds to the confusion.

I think when all four classes are together, that’s what sportscar racing is supposed to be. It’s tight, there’s a lot of traffic, but we’re all professional drivers and there’s give and take and respect.

When you have all that, you have exciting races. It certainly makes it less confusing for the fans when we’re not changing the race format each weekend.

The way the four classes stack up against each other is pretty interesting at the moment.

We have all professional driver lineups in the GTLM cars, for example, and at the start of the race, most of the silver drivers in PC start, so at the beginning, it seems like the balance of performance is in favor of the GTLM cars.

But once it switches, and the pro drivers get in the PC cars, then we’re quicker than the GTLM cars (not by much, but still quicker).

Then, on the flip side of that, there were times when I had the No. 5 and No. 31 DP car behind me and it took them five or six laps to get by me.

Excluding GTD, all the classes are quite close in terms of race pace. It makes it, in one sense, a bit easier, because you’re not passing a bunch of cars all the time; we’re all at a similar pace minus the GTD cars.

The P, PC and GTLM cars aren’t radically different in pace. It’s still a challenge, but I thought this race, in particular, was one of the easiest races we’ve had in terms of traffic.

I think the similarity in pace contributed to the lack of yellows. All of us our similar speed, so you’re not constantly coming up on slower cars all the time.

I remember the last ALMS race that was at Mazda Raceway, the GTC, GT and PC cars were quite a bit different in speed, so you were constantly passing slower traffic.

I think this race, if you looked at the number of passes that we made, I’d imagine it’s way less than what we saw in the last season of ALMS, but I think that’s a good thing in a way.

Up next we have our only street race of the season: Detroit. CORE autosport has never been to Detroit. I was there in 2012 in a DP car. I’m glad I know the layout.

I’ve heard they’ve changed a couple sections, but for the most part I have it down. For Jon, it’ll be an all-new experience.

Our engineer Tom Brown has been there in his IndyCar days and he’ll know what we need from a setup standpoint. I’m looking forward to it.

With how long Jon and I have both raced in this series, it’s not often that you get to go to new tracks.

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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