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BRAUN: Rain and Champagne at COTA

DXDT Racing’s Colin Braun recaps the Fanatec GTWC America powered by AWS event at COTA…

Photo: Jamey Price/DXDT

If the SRO America race weekend at Circuit of The Americas had a theme it would have been… rain. Everyone in the paddock, including the DXDT Racing team, were planning for rain all weekend but it didn’t happen until about mid-way through the first race.

Just before the first pit stop the rain came and forced teams to decide on which set of Pirelli tires to put on, wets or slicks.

In racing, decisions happen fast and based on the radar, the DXDT Racing team decided on slicks.

Turns out, the rain was there to stay so the DXDT crew had to execute a second pit stop for wet tires that put us in the middle of the pack for a rain-shortened race.

Gambling is part of racing and sometimes you come out on top and sometimes you don’t. Saturday was unfortunately the latter. The No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo was fast but there just wasn’t enough time to rise to the top.

I have to give a shoutout to SRO who made the wise decision to end the race early due to the heavy rain.

It’s not an easy choice but it was the right one as water was building up on the straightaways and making it really treacherous, even with wet tires, for us to race – sideways on the straightaways is exciting though.

Photo: Jamey Price/DXDT

Sunday was a new day and the opportunity to turn the weekend around for our team.

That’s something I really appreciate about the DXDT Racing/CrowdStrike Racing team, they never give up. And with five DXDT teams total in SRO competition, all the team members work together and pitch in where needed.

That kind of energy fuels itself and it’s great to know as drivers, we have such a strong team behind us. Needless to say, the team showed up Sunday ready to execute and win!

I started Sunday’s race in fourth and unfortunately suffered a bit of damage going into the first few corners, while battling hard.

Fortunately, our Mercedes is tough, and the damage didn’t hurt our performance too much. I spent my entire 50-minute stint running where I started, in fourth, before handing the car over to George Kurtz for the final 30 minutes of the race.

The DXDT crew did a great job on the pit stop. Everything ran smooth and the team was able to gain George one position to put him on track in third for the restart. The green flag dropped and that’s when our weekend turned around.

Photo: Jamey Price/DXDT

George and I talk a lot about starts, and restarts, and how important they are to winning a race. When that green flag dropped, George put his head down and passed two cars to jump to the lead and never looked back. He won in dominating fashion crossing the line 11+ seconds ahead of P2.

After going to a backup car in practice on Friday, then having the weather get the best of us Saturday and making contact on the first turn of Sunday’s race, it sure was great to stand on top of that podium Sunday afternoon!

Together as a team we overcame a pretty rocky weekend to win our second race of the season and I couldn’t be more proud of the professionalism and effort of the DXDT/CrowdStrike/AWS team!

It’s been really gratifying to watch George grow as a driver. This weekend was a testament to the amount of work he has put in. To see him dominate in the final 30 minutes of Sunday’s race was an extremely proud moment.

Photo: Jamey Price/DXDT

I think that’s a really cool thing about SRO, that both drivers see both the start and the finish of a race.

Typically, in sports car racing one driver starts and the other finishes each race. But in SRO, drivers start one race and finish the second race. I think this makes for a more well-rounded driver and you can definitely see that in George.

I also have to brag on the DXDT Racing/CrowdStrike Racing team as well. They’re currently fielding five GT3 entries in SRO, including three in the Pro-Am class of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS series, plus a single entry in TC America.

The quality of equipment, amount of time, effort and dedication this team has put in, between testing and races, cannot be understated.

Every person on the team, from management on down, has a winning attitude and they never give up. That mindset makes championship teams, and it makes it a lot of fun to drive for them.

Overall, I’m really proud of how our team reacted to the adverse circumstances the COTA weekend presented to us.

It was really great to get the win on Sunday and add it to our win from Sonoma. I think our DXDT /CrowdStrike/AWS Racing team is in a great position to start the year and I can’t wait to get to VIR next month.

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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