Colin Braun says they’re not distracted by the thickening Prototype title fight, which has seen the underdog CORE autosport squad close to within four points of the overall championship lead.
Braun and team owner/driver Jon Bennett scored their fourth consecutive podium result in Sunday’s America’s Tire 250 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, taking the Pro-Am-crewed LMP2 car to a runner-up finish following another late-race charge.
While starting from the rear of the Prototype field, as has been the case throughout the summer stretch of races, Bronze-rated Bennett crucially kept the car on the lead lap before handing over to Braun at the 30-minute mark, where he briefly passed the eventual race-winning No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi for position.
However, it was short-lived, as Pipo Derani got back past Braun on Lap 61, before stretching out a margin that eventually saw the Brazilian inherit the lead after Harry Ticknell’s spin.
“That car was pretty quick,” Braun told Sportscar365. “I raced with him a little bit at the start when I got in. I got by him for a minute but he just motored on past.
“We were really racing for second trying to get the 7 [car] there in the end.
“The only option was, in traffic, I was a similar pace to him so I was hoping we’d catch some traffic and fall my way. It fell my way as he got tangled up there and I was able to jump and get by.”
It still proved to be a good points day for the duo, who gained six points on championship leaders Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran, who finished sixth on Sunday.
Coupled with the non-points score for Action Express Racing teammates Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque, following the massive start-line accident, Braun and Bennett now sit comfortably in second in the standings.
Braun said the championship implications won’t change their approach heading into next month’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, where they’ll be rejoined by ex-Porsche LMP1 star Romain Dumas.
Questions over Balance of Performance, however, remain, particularly as all LMP2 cars were handed a 10 kg of additional weight prior to this weekend.
“We certainly set out the year to do what we do, and just improve and learn and get better. We’ve been doing that,” Braun said. “To look down and find us in the mix for the championship is pretty awesome going into the last race.
“We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing the last nine races and see what shakes out. But we’re definitely motivated and excited and doing our normal thing.
“What’s really helped us this year is that we’re laser focused on what we can control and we’re not distracted by any of the other stuff around us.
“We’re just doing our job with our Oreca car, which is obviously fantastic, and it’s been heads down, focused on that. We go to the race track, work with what we have.
“We’ve had some races where we’ve had good speed, some where we’ve had better fuel mileage and being able to save. Some [races] we’ve had no speed. But we’ve found ways lately to get on the podium. We’re just going to keep our heads down and doing that.”
Colin’s father Jeff Braun, who serves as the team’s race engineer, echoed those same sentiments.
“We’ve done nothing different this year than we did all last year in GTD,” Jeff Braun told Sportscar365. “It’s not like we’ve changed anything procedure-wise. We’ll continue to do the same thing and it falls where it falls.
“It’s cool to be four points out of the lead for sure. Who would have thought that a little privateer team against the big factories could do that?”