The Tequila Patrón-sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) team might be making its Watkins Glen debut this weekend in the Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b racing machines, but ESM drivers have a combined 16 starts, three pole positions and three wins at the upstate New York circuit.
ESM heads into the sixth round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race – the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen – with confidence following a mid-May test session at the New York track.
Known as one of the premier permanent road courses in North America, Watkins Glen is an 11-turn, 3.37-mile road course.
This event marks the return of an endurance event in the TUDOR Championship. The last three rounds of competition featured 100-minute sprint events. ESM is looking forward to returning to a six-hour race.
In addition, this weekend’s race is the third round of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC). The Tequila Patrón-sponsored championship within a championship includes the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the season finale Petit Le Mans.
Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel, co-drivers of the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD are eighth in the NAEC, following a second place finish in round two at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek, co-drivers of the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD, are ninth with a NAEC best finish of eighth at the Rolex 24 in January.
ESM owner/driver Sharp has four previous starts at Watkins Glen. Sharp made his debut at Watkins Glen in 1992 during a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
After trading his stock car in for an open-wheel car, Sharp returned to The Glen in 2005 for a three-year run in the IndyCar Series. The Northeast native earned back-to-back top-10 finishes in 2005 and 2006.
Dalziel, Sharp’s co-driver, has 13 previous starts at Watkins Glen. The Scotsman seeks a HPD Prototype win to go along with his 2012 win in a Daytona Prototype. In addition to the win, Dalziel has two additional podium finishes (2011, 2012), both in Daytona Prototype race cars.
Anthony Lazzaro returns to join No. 2 season-long drivers Brown and van Overbeek. In six starts at Watkins Glen, Lazzaro has not finished outside of the top-four. His record includes two poles, two wins – both in 2002 – two runner-up finishes and one fourth-place run.
Van Overbeek also has some history at Watkins Glen. In three previous starts, he has one win (2003) and two top-10 finishes. Co-driver Brown is making his debut at The Glen, but the track won’t seem new to him. Brown logged plenty of seat time during the team’s test session in May.
CORE leads PC class
After a decisive win in the latest TUDOR United Sports Car Championship race at Kansas Speedway, CORE autosport heads to Watkins Glen International with a six-point lead in the Prototype Challenge Team and Drivers’ Championship.
CORE is also the current leader in the Patrón North American Endurance Cup, a collection of the four longest races of the year. It could extend its lead there with a strong finish in the six-hour enduro at Watkins Glen.
Watkins Glen International is a legendary road course located in upstate New York, which hosted the first Formula 1 races in the U.S. Although CORE autosport has never raced there previously, the team did undertake two days of testing in May at the 3.37-mile circuit.
The six-hour race marks the first time all four categories of the TUDOR Championship will be on course at the same time since the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, which ended in victory for CORE autosport.
Colin Braun has four previous starts at Watkins Glen driving in the GRAND-AM Daytona Prototype category with a best finish of ninth in 2006 and 2012.
Bennett and Braun have the same lead in the PC Drivers’ Championship.
CORE leads the Patrón North American Endurance Cup PC standings by seven points. Bennett and Braun have the same margin in the Patrón NAEC PC driver points.
“I have never raced at Watkins Glen,” Bennett said. “It is a track with a rich history and it will be a unique honor to see the track as if looking through the eyes of those legendary drivers who came before.
“Each event has its own unique set of challenges to be successful. Sometimes it’s the track, sometimes it’s the clock, sometimes it’s the weather. At the six-hour race at Watkins Glen, we will be challenged with all three. The track is fast and demanding. The six-hour length requires strategy and an endurance mindset. And, the weather at Watkins Glen can be a bit unpredictable. It is going to be a wonderful, challenging event. We are fortunate to have stellar engineering, strategy, and preparation resources at CORE autosport. I think the long races play to the strength of our team.”
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen is the sixth race of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and third race of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. Qualifying for prototype cars takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday. Green flag is 11:15 a.m. Sunday.
Television coverage of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen starts at 11 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. The race will also stream live on IMSA.com.