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BRAUN: Watkins Glen Debrief

CORE autosport’s Colin Braun talks about his victory at Watkins Glen…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Thank you everyone for all the congratulatory messages on Twitter and Facebook for our win at Watkins Glen.

It was a well-earned victory for the CORE autosport guys who had this car dialed in when it rolled off the truck and for Jon Bennett and James Gue who always kept the car pointed in the right direction and hit all their marks.

I heard some people say we were in a class of our own on Sunday, but the race definitely wasn’t easy.

When I got in the car, Jon had received a penalty for passing under yellow. It’s a challenge in these cars—because we’re so low and close to the ground— when you’re tucked in behind a GT car it’s hard to see the corner stations.

It sounds like Jon popped out and as soon as he made the pass, he saw the yellow, but by then it was too late and we had to serve a drive-through penalty under green.

From there, it was a challenging game of strategy. With the way the yellows were playing out, the race didn’t seem to be going our way.

About the time I got in, our engineer Tom Brown had figured we’d need to make an entire extra pit stop for a splash of fuel. We were 7/8ths of a lap behind and knew we needed an extra fuel stop, so Tom just told me to drive as hard as I could until the race was over or I heard different!

I drove as hard as I could and after a couple pit stops I heard him come over the radio and say “okay, we’ve just put the second-place car a lap down,” and I was so focused on driving that I didn’t really register what he said.

About half a lap later I said “hey, wait, wait… so we’re leading the race and have everyone a lap down?” and he said “yep, exactly, we’re sitting pretty.” At that point I was pretty relieved and could stop driving like a crazy man.

It’s never a foregone conclusion that you have the race won, so I was prepared for anything crazy to happen during those late yellows and restarts. I was trying to be really heads-up and cognizant of the lead we had. Even though a couple guys got pass-arounds, we still had a pretty healthy margin.

I just wanted to make sure I was smart and used the lead we had built to our advantage, so I was patient and made sure we got to the start/finish line.

It was a great feeling celebrating with the CORE autosport guys in victory lane, although that bottle of champagne was pretty big! I had to adjust my shaking style because I was afraid it was going to fly out of my hands!

I had to half shake it so it didn’t spray quite as good as the small ones. In my mind sweat plus champagne plus a heavy glass bottle was a recipe for disaster, but that just meant there was plenty to go around for all the crew guys.

Once again adding James Gue to the lineup was a smart choice and I was really glad when I heard he was joining us. James is a really smart driver who gets up to speed quickly. He fits right in with Jon and I.

I don’t think by any means we’re on cruise control for the rest of the season. We’re always focused on continuing to improve. Everyone else in PC is chasing us down, so we have to keep looking forward and staying hungry. Nothing comes easy in this class.

I’m very disappointed the PC class isn’t going to Mosport. It’s my kind of place: very fast and flowing with a good rhythm.

We’ve had good success there. We finished second there in 2012 and won in 2013. I’ll still be there though because I’m coaching a guy in IMSA Lites: Tony Bullock. I’m looking forward to that, but I’ll bring my helmet and suit just in case anyone needs a wheel man!

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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