A trip to victory lane is what CORE autosport expects in Saturday's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, continuing its record-setting American Le Mans Series season. The team and drivers Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel are ready to return to the top of the Prototype Challenge class podium for Round 6 of the 2012 ALMS season.
The question is which pair will it be?
Team founder /owner Bennett is paired with motorsports star Braun in the No. 05 Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 – a new-for-2012 duo that's captured two wins, one second and two third-place finishes in five races this season.
The sister No. 06 Soloson Import car, with lead pilot Alex Popow, has the identical record. Popow, who just last week made history by winning the inaugural GRAND-AM Rolex event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will once again be paired with Ryan Dalziel, a class winner at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, and with whom Popow co-drove the No. 06 to victory lane at Long Beach.
"I'm getting used to good things when working with CORE autosport, but we have to push for it," Popow said. "People think it's easy because the team has won four out of the five races, but it's not as easy as it looks. You've got to always do a great job, make no mistakes and have a little luck. And these guys do that week in and week out."
It's now a fight between the two cars and crews to see which one will produce the 2012 ALMS PC driver champion. Bennett / Braun and Popow are tied up at the halfway point of the 10-race season and it's at Mid-Ohio where the gauntlet will be laid down.
"I love Mid-Ohio and cannot wait to get back there, especially behind the wheel of the No. 06 Soloson Import car with my co-driver Alex," Dalziel said. "Alex has had a tough last few ALMS races and has lost a bit of ground in the championship points and I'm hoping that the Mid-Ohio round will be a turning point for him and the No. 06 team with another win.
"I know that the entire CORE autosport organization has been working hard to make the cars more competitive than ever and I look forward to rewarding their hard work with a victory at Mid-Ohio this weekend."
This is only the second year that CORE autosport has competed at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio. In 2011 the 06 sat atop the pole, but bad luck befell both cars in the rain-shortened event with a fourth and sixth-place finishes in class. From the 2011 effort, only Bennett remains on the team.
CORE autosport's driver lineup has had overall success at the historic venue. Braun has had years of experience at Mid-Ohio, with two GRAND-AM podium finishes, while Dalziel has scored top-five finishes there in both ALMS and GRAND-AM, as well as a win in the GRAND-AM Daytona Prototype class in 2011.
"It's been awhile since I drove at Mid-Ohio, but I do love that track," Braun said. "It's such a driver's track. If the No. 05 places well at the race, this will be my 100th career podium finish; appropriate because CORE autosport has been one of the best team's I've ever driven with."
Practice at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, begins today with qualifying on Friday. The two hour and 45 minute Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge will take place on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. A two-hour television broadcast featuring live coverage of the final two hours of the race will begin at 2 p.m. on ABC.