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BRAUN: Road America Debrief

Colin Braun files latest Sportscar365 debrief after Road America…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Going to Road America is always fun, because I have a lot of family connections in that area.

My dad [Jeff Braun] grew up in Milwaukee and went to college in Milwaukee. My mom grew up just south of the Illinois border and ended up going to college in Milwaukee as well. My aunt and uncle still live only about an hour from Road America, as well as all my cousins on that side of the family.

Racing in Wisconsin is always a good way to catch up with everyone.

When I was younger, we ended up doing a lot of go-kart racing in the Midwest. We spent a lot of time at my uncle’s house working on kart stuff in the summer.

It was a good remote base, since Texas wasn’t very close to the Midwest. I never got up to Road America though. For me, it was a kart track in Dousman that was the highlight of the racing scene in Wisconsin.

My dad raced in SCCA when he was younger and raced quite a bit at Road America. My uncle and my dad would both go up there all the time and race. I’ve heard a lot of stories about Road America and my dad knows it pretty well from the drivers’ seat, which is cool.

Speaking of my dad, it was fun having him in CORE pit stand last weekend. He does a great job calling strategy, which is a big undertaking. The more things there are going on, the more difficult it is to have one guy calling the race.

I think you’ve seen the sportscar racing world transition to needing at least two if not three people to call race strategy. A lot of people who watch the races don’t get a chance to see everything that’s involved.

You’ve got to keep track of your fuel mileage, you’ve got to keep track of your competitors’ strategy, we have some complicated rules when a caution comes out about the pass-around and the wave-by… it’s quite a lot of things to keep track of at all times.

For example, at Road America when the first (and only) caution came out, Jon [Bennett] was in the car, but still needed to meet his minimum drive time. I think most of the PC field, including us, came down pit road under that caution and got some fuel, just because it opened up the strategy down the road.

We didn’t have to be so tight on fuel and it opened up a lot of options for us in the rest of the race. I think it was the right call to do that. We didn’t lose any track time, we restarted maybe toward the back of the line, but we didn’t have to do an extra pit stop under green, which could have cost us 45 seconds or so.

I jumped in the car and when we left I think we were in fifth or sixth place. I put my head down and tried to eat into the gap to the leaders. I think when I came out of the pits we were 30 seconds or so behind the leaders.

I put my head down and was able to get around the No. 52 car, which is great for us in the points. I had some fun passing Tom Kimber-Smith and the No. 16 car. I got to pass both of those guys around the outside.

They were both defending to the inside, which is fine, so I thought I’d take the other option, which is driving around the outside. I was able to pull that off twice. It made it exciting and fun for me. From there we were able to get onto the podium and within about 15 seconds of the leaders.

It’s nice to have a bit of a break now, but I’m definitely disappointed that we’re not going to VIR. It’s such a fun racetrack in the PC car! Those uphill Esses are flat out and so much fun.

It’s got such a good rhythm and flow to it when you’re in a high-downforce car. It’s definitely weird not going back there, but that’s the schedule and I know we’ll be at home watching it on TV.

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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