Braun and Bennett charge to victory in Grand Prix of Kansas

06/07/2014 10:07 PM

06/07/2014 11:53 PM

No need to ask where Car 54 was on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway.

Colin Braun started the second session of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship at the Grand Prix of Kansas in fifth place.

He took the lead before the first lap was over and then extended it, coasting to a 4.65-second victory on the 2.37-mile road course in the CORE Autosport team’s No. 54 Oreca FLM09.

Braun and teammate Jon Bennett had the series-points lead coming into Saturday’s event, and they’ll leave with it as well.

“We rolled off the truck really good, made a series of good changes after that first practice and were able to have a good race car from that point forward,” Braun said.

Bennett qualified the car Friday, but didn’t arrive at Kansas Speedway until 20 minutes before his run because he had been attending his son’s high school graduation in Charlotte, N.C.

Neither he nor Braun had trouble negotiating the course.

“It was really well executed by him for so few laps on this race track,” Braun said. “We took the lead by the end of the first lap and just kind of set sail from there. It’s a testament to the guys, the work they did back in the shop, the preparation. We just showed up and had a really fast car.”

The team of Renger Van der Zande and Mirco Schultis took second. Luis Diaz and Sean Rayhall took third after Rayhall was victorious in the first session, giving Diaz pole position for the nightcap.

Things were a bit more exciting in the first session, in terms of race cautions and spinouts. Bennett was happy to navigate through it cleanly.

“Colin is super-talented, so it’s a combination of being aggressive and doing well in my race, but then leaving Colin something to really finish the weekend off,” Bennett said. “I was able to keep my nose clean and be patient and I knew that was going to be a great launching pad for Colin.”

Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge

The duo of Kris Wilson and James Davison took the checkered flag at the Grand Sport division. They split driving duties over the course of the 2-hour, 15-minute race.

It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that there would be drama at the finish of the race. Davison and Matt Plumb traded the lead three times in a nine-minute span down the stretch.

But Davison got in front for good with 13 minutes remaining, using lapped traffic to his advantage. The drama ended with two minutes remaining when Plumb was forced to take his car to pit road. He ultimately finished fourth.

Davison was able to cruise to a 20.9-second victory over Kurt Rezzetano after that. He was the only one who didn’t know that Plumb had pitted his car.

“They didn’t tell me anything,” Davison said with Wilson laughing next to him. “In the pit stop they didn’t tell me when the fuel was done. Everyone put their hands up and I thought ‘I’m good to go,’ and we were still refueling.”

It was the first victory for Davison, as well as for Aston Martin in the division. It also capped a whirlwind couple of weeks for Davison, who made his Indy 500 debut last month and finished 16th.

“To think I’ve done the Indy 500, Detroit, GT Daytona and Kansas all on consecutive weekends, it’s what you dream of. I’m blessed,” Davison said.

The team of Michael Valiante and Chad Gilsinger was victorious in the Street Tuner division, besting Wayne and Will Nonnamaker by 0.79 seconds.

Valiente had to fight all the way down the stretch to secure the victory, a result he doubted was possible as the race wore on.

“I had to block a few laps to keep the position, but it was fantastic. I didn’t think we’d be standing here on the top step. I was hoping for a podium, so that’s outstanding,” Valiente said. “That’s one of the toughest wins I’ve had.”

Prototype Lites

Tony Bullock, Mikhail Goikhberg and Craig Duerson jostled for the lead throughout round three.

Bullock saved his best move for last, passing Goikhberg in the final turn to claim victory.

The trio switched places for round four later in the evening, with Goikhberg winning, Duerson finishing second and Bullock third.

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