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Braun, Shank Shatter Daytona Speed Mark

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, October 10 2013

A new Daytona speed record was set this week. (Photo courtesy of Daytona International Speedway)


A new world-wide King of Speed emerged at Daytona International Speedway Wednesday, when Colin Braun drove a Daytona Prototype powered by the new 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged Ford V6 EcoBoost race engine to a single-lap speed record of 222.971 mph.

Braun’s lap – which took 40.364-seconds around the high-banked, 2.5-mile DIS tri-oval – smashed the 26-year-old record of 210.364 mph set by former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott in a Ford Thunderbird during qualifying for the 1987 Daytona 500.

Braun and the Michael Shank Racing team also set new world speed records for 10 miles from a standing start (210.018 mph average), and 10 kilometers from a standing start (202.438 mph average). The 10-kilometer and 10-mile world records were held by Hans Liebold, who drove a Mercedes-Benz Turbo to a 10-kilometer speed of 199.101 mph and a 10-mile speed of 208.316 mph from a standing start in Nardo, Italy, on May 5, 1979.

All numbers from the session are subject to Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) homologation.

Braun, 25, wasn’t born when “Awesome Bill” set the previous speed record in his No. 9 Coors T-Bird. But Braun readily appreciated the significance of Wednesday’s accomplishment.

“It’s certainly really special to hold the record here at Daytona,” said Braun, whose racing resume includes an extensive Daytona Prototype sports car background and a NASCAR stint at Roush Fenway Racing. “This is the place where I got my first professional sports car win in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series with a Ford-powered DP car.”

Daytona has been home to events in which the world’s top marques competed. Cars and engines by such legendary manufacturers as Ferrari, Prosche, Lotus, March and Jaguar have raced at the Daytona circuit in the 24, as have drivers like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Bob Wollek, Peter Gregg, Hurley Haywood and Jackie Ickx.

“It’s always been a historic place for a lot of people. This is hallowed ground here at Daytona, so it’s really special to hold the record at this place. To get to do it with a group of guys like (team owner) Mike Shank and with the new EcoBoost Ford motor, it’s a special day, for sure.”

A native of Ovalo in West Texas, Braun made history as the youngest DP driver at age 17 driving an Essex Racing Ford-powered Crawford chassis. In 2006 he joined Krohn Racing, where he was teamed with veteran Jorg Bergmeister. Braun became the youngest winner of a major auto race in North America with his win in the Brumos Porsche 250 at DIS. He also became the youngest driver to stand on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a with a second-place class finish in a Ferrari F430.

Braun drove for Doran Racing in the first two events of the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season and then returned to CORE Autosport for the full 2013 American Le Mans Series schedule, competing in the Prototype Challenge class.

Braun said he was amazed at how fast the EcoBoost engine got up to speed Wednesday. “Our first run this morning was 209 mph, and it was an edgy drive at that speed,” Braun said. “I can only imagine how edgy it was for Bill Elliott doing those speeds in his Thunderbird stock car. But our crew kept working and adjusting on it, and it was a great feeling coming down pit road after the record runs and seeing how happy everyone was.”

One of those happy people was his team owner.

“I can’t believe, in my whole racing career,” Shank said, “that I’d have an opportunity to do something like this. I never thought we could. If you think about how fast we went around here in a Daytona Prototype car is a little bit surreal. This thing is extremely fast and I’m extremely proud of it. I think it bodes well for the future of sports car racing in the U.S. Daytona Prototypes are not slow cars. They are very, very capable cars and I think we proved that here today.”

The record runs were also a source of pride for Grand-Am founder Jim France, who spearheaded the use of Daytona Prototypes as the top category for the Rolex Sports Car Series since 2003 and through the completion of the series last month. France will serve as chairman of the new International Motor Sports Association, which will sanction the TUDOR Championship. The series, which results from the merger of the Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, will include Daytona Prototypes in its top class as well.

“It was a very special, exciting day to be able to set the track record with a Daytona Prototype,” France said. “I think it was very appropriate and very exciting. For Ford with their new EcoBoost engine, for Mike Shank and everybody involved at Ford Motor Company and their engineers and everybody who worked on the project, it’s wonderful to come to a great conclusion like this.”

The EcoBoost engine was prepared by Ford Racing engine partner Roush Yates Engines. In addition, Continental Tires constructed a special tire that was lighter and had less rolling resistance than the standard race tire, along with a harder compound than the tire used for a typical road-course race.

Both the Riley Technologies chassis and Ford’s twin-turbo engine will compete in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship that will kick-off with the 52nd annual Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

The EcoBoost V6 engine represents a renewed commitment from Ford to North American sports car racing and the TUDOR Championship in particular, Ford officials said. Jamie Allison, Ford racing director, was present throughout the speed runs at DIS to oversee the new power plant.

“It’s a very proud day for all of us at Ford,” Allison said. “To take a Ford EcoBoost race engine that is basically production technology, and to beat speed records that have been on the books for decades really says something for our new engine and the program we launched last week.

“It’s a great way to kick-off a new era of EcoBoost and sports car racing for Ford in the 2014 United SportsCar Championship, and we couldn’t have done it without Shank and his team, and the team at Roush Yates. Now we’ll start getting it ready to make its competition debut in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in January.”

The record speed runs followed last week’s announcement that Michael Shank Racing would be the first team to utilize the EcoBoost engine in its Daytona Prototype heading into the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Wednesday’s run was the culmination of a process that began 10 months ago for MSR.

John Maddox, road-racing program manager for Roush Yates Engines, noted the EcoBoost race engine project was launched two years ago. “There has been a lot of hard work by a lot of people to get it to where it is today,” Maddox said. “This EcoBoost engine is relevant, state-of-the-art production technology in racing, and it brings with it power and high-efficiency in the same package.”

The 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona is scheduled for Jan. 25-26, 2014. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, October 10 2013
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