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Core ready to roll

After a six week hiatus for the Prototype Challenge category, Jon Bennett and Colin Braun are eager to get back behind the wheel of the No. 54 ORECA FLM09 for their shot at a third-straight TUDOR United SportsCar Championship win as the series heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

CORE autosport has a record of strong finishes at Laguna Seca. Since the team’s debut in 2011 a CORE car has been on every PC podium at the Monterey, Calif. circuit.

This includes Bennett and Braun’s first ever American Le Mans Series win in 2012.

“I love Laguna Seca, but to be honest, every track is special to me in some way,” Bennett said. “As I arrive, each race track brings back good memories with the first drive through the gate. “Personally, I rank Laguna Seca among the top tracks that the TUDOR series will visit this year. This place is fast. With our prototype generating downforce, this circuit drives like a do-it-yourself roller coaster. The turns are flowing and most of them have a bit of camber that helps the race car rocket from corner to corner. And, of course, there is the ‘corkscrew,’ internationally known to be as spectacular for both spectators and drivers. As a driver, I know to arrive in my best physical shape because the high speeds and quick corners can leave you breathless and a bit sore.” The new TUDOR series (a merger between GRAND-AM and ALMS) will debut a new format at Laguna Seca. Previously at Daytona and Sebring, all four categories of cars raced together.

Today the four classes will be separated into two races; the Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona cars will race together this morning and the Prototype and GT Le Mans cars will race together in the afternoon.

This gives CORE autosport the unique opportunity to take its first overall race victory.

Bennett and Braun are on a two-race win streak after collecting victories at Daytona and Sebring.

CORE autosport leads the PC Team Championship by 12 points as does Bennett and Braun in the PC Drivers’ Championship.

Braun, who won the PC pole and scored the fastest PC lap in the 2013 Laguna Seca race, is looking forward to the challenge that Laguna Seca presents.

“I’m looking forward to Monterey,” Braun said. “It’s certainly a track that we’ve done well at in the past and it’s a place that Jon [Bennett] is quick at. Last year we were really fast; qualified on pole, lead for most of the race, but had a hiccup at the end. We’ve proved we’re quick there and I think we’ll have a good starting setup and place to work from. I think any teams that have a good notebook from previous years’ experience are the teams that could do better than others, just because there is so little track time.”

This year’s race brings many unknowns with the inception of the United SportsCar Championship.

“For me the biggest challenge at Laguna is the sand — it always seems to be an unknown,” Braun said. “I think this year is going to be quite a bit different for the PC cars, because as we learned at Sebring and Daytona, we have Continental Challenge cars on track before us and I think the way that their rubber works with our tires is something everyone is still trying to figure out. I think that’s when having a lot of experience to fall back on is going to be crucial.”

The Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca is contested in two events, each featuring a pair of classes, and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 at 5:30 p.m. today.