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Braun Mashes Field At Kansas

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 8 2014

By Jim Pedley
NASCAR Wire Service

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A couple of days before Saturday’s Tudor United SportsCar Series’ Kansas Grand Prix, driver Colin Braun was asked about his strategy for the unique/bizarre two-segment format the event featured. Mash the gas and go, Braun said.

Braun executed that strategy with slick precision on race night. The Core Autosport driver started fifth, took the lead on the first lap in the second 45-minute segment, sprinted out to big leads and earned his third victory in four Prototype Challenge races this season.

“That was good,” Braun said. “We came off the truck really good, made, I would say, a series of really good changes in the first practice and were able to have a really good race car from that point forward.”

Despite the seeming ease with which the victory came, Braun said, “They didn’t hand us one. We had to work for it for sure.”

Braun almost had to drive the who weekend by himself as co-driver Jon Bennett, who qualified the car on Friday, had to attend to family business back home in North Carolina earlier in the day.

“Surreal weekend for me,” Bennett said. “My son graduated from high school on Friday night. I absolutely had to be there. Luckily I was able to catch a magic carpet from Charlotte at 7:30 and make it there with, really, about 20 minutes to spare (before qualifying started at 10:45 p.m.). Did a lot of simulation time of Kansas and then got in the car and had a reasonable qualifying effort.”

The victory at the 6-turn, 2.37-mile Kansas infield road course allowed Braun and Bennett, to pad their series points lead.

It also helped them overcome the disappointment of finishing seventh – four laps off the pace after an on-track incident damaged the car’s suspension – at Laguna Seca in their last start before Kansas.

“It’s racing,” Braun said of the Laguna Seca race. “That stuff happens all the time. Just a racing deal between two guys really going at it. The real strength of a team is how you rebound back after issues.”

Finishing second in the second segment – 4.6 seconds back – was Renger van der Zande of Starworks Motorsports.

The podium was the second in a row for van der Zande and his teammate, Mirco Schultis, as they won the Laguna Seca race.

Finishing third was pole-sitter Luis Dias in the No. 25 8Star Motorsports car.

Rounding out the top five were Gunnar Jeannette in the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry, and Alex Tagliani in the No. 08 RSR Racing car.

Craig Duerson started second in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites portion of the race – which was ran in combination with the PC series – but quickly moved to the lead.

He stayed there until the final 30 seconds of the race. That’s when Mikhail Goikhberg passed him for the lead.

Goikhberg kept the lead and got the victory.

In the first segment of the PC/Lites race, Chris Cumming of RSR Racing started from the pole but was passed on the first lap by Sean Rayhall of 8Star Motorsports.

Once out front, Rayhall pulled away and when the segment ended 45 minutes later, he had won by 5.3 seconds over Cumming.

“Our car was good all day,” Rayhall said. “It kept getting better and better all throughout the race.”

While never challenged for the victory, Rayhall was challenge by the presence of the Lites cars on the track.

“Very difficult to deal with,” he said.

Rayhall said the Lites cars are slower on the straights but brake deeper and carry about the same speeds into corners.

“It was a bigger challenge than if it would have been just PC cars out there,” he said.

Rayhall’s victory sent teammate Diaz into the second segment as the pole sitter.

In the first segment of the Lites race, the racing was considerably closer. Tony Bullock passed Mikhail Goikhberg on the outside heading to the checkered flag to get the victory.

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In the Continental SportsCar Challenge Series race – a time 2.5-hour job – Australian James Davison and co-driver Kris Wilson gave Aston Martin its first ever victory in an American sports car series.

It was a big moment, Davison, who finished 16th in last month’s Indianapolis 500, said. For him and his marque.

“For so many sports car manufacturers, their biggest market is in the United States,” Davison said. “It’s crucial that they’re winning in sports car racing. Having a good personal relationship with John Gaw (Aston Martin’s racing director) is going to help me get into one of their cars at Le Mans one day.”

Davison, driving the No. 07 Aston Martin on the final stint, finished 20 seconds ahead of second-place Andrew Aquilante, who was driving the No. 32 Mustang with teammate Kurt Rezzetano.

But it was a tight fight with the Rum Bum Racing Porsche 997 that tested Davison the most.

For the final 20 or so minutes of the race, Davison and Matt Plumb of Rum Bum took turns taking the lead.

But with 2 mintues to go, Plumb, whose team was going for a second-straight win, pitted and the race was Davison’s.

The points-leading BMW M3 of Trent Hindman and John Edwards finished four laps off the pace after suffering a mechanical problem on the parade lap.

In the Street Tuner division, Michael Valiante in a Honda Civic held off Wayne Nonamaker’s Porsche Cayman to get the victory.

“It was one of the toughest wins I’ve had,” Valiente, a veteran sports car driver, said. “I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. I kept telling myself to hit my marks, hit my marks.”

No problem. The margin of victory was .794 seconds.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 8 2014
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