Following a promising start to the weekend as the two fastest cars in opening practice and sweeping the front row in qualifying, Extreme Speed Motorsports’ (ESM) Brickyard Grand Prix proved to be challenging.
With less than 10 laps to go, both Tequila Patrón-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b (HPD) pitted for a splash of fuel to reach the scheduled race distance. In the end, the ESM machines finished fifth and seventh.
In its Indianapolis Motor Speedway debut, ESM earned its first front row sweep in TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competition, appropriately on National Patrón Tequila Day.
The team was confident it had exorcised the mechanical and electrical gremlins that arose in the two previous rounds of the TUDOR Championship. The front row start was a step in the right direction.
From the pole position, Scott Sharp led the field to green in the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD. Sharp battled with the leaders and settled into a steady second place pace.
The second caution flag of the race took place on Lap 24, which started as a debris caution and turned into an extended caution in order to repair the race track from an earlier incident.
Taking advantage of the caution, Sharp pitted for fuel, tires and a driver change to Ryan Dalziel. This stop was earlier than the team anticipated and altered fuel strategy for the balance of the race.
Dalziel began running lap times quicker than the leaders and reached a race-high of third place. He pitted again on Lap 65 and Lap 98, both for fuel and tires.
The third and final pit stop, for seven seconds of fuel, took place with less than 10 minutes left. Dalziel was running fourth at the time of the stop and returned in seventh position.
In the end he was able to improve two positions and finish fifth.
Ed Brown took the opening stint for the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD. Brown held his ground on the front row against the hard-charging field.
In a similar strategy to the No. 1 machine, Brown pitted on Lap 26 for tires, fuel and a driver change to Johannes van Overbeek in hopes of setting a different fuel strategy from the rest of the field, yet similar to the sister No. 1 machine.
During his stint, van Overbeek also needed to pit twice – on Lap 68 and then again on Lap 106. The last stop came with two laps to go and van Overbeek running second. Four seconds of fuel later, he returned to the track and finished seventh.
“We had a really good car and the front row for the start,” said Sharp. “We were a little bit worried about the long straightaways and the power advantage the DPs have, as usual, which enabled them to get through traffic better. Somehow we used a lot of fuel on the No. 1 HPD in the middle of the race and made us have to pit early and take on more. A couple of the DPs didn’t pit and those that did, pitted later and took less fuel, which made for a shorter pit stop. Fifth was the best we could do in that kind of scenario.”
Next up for Extreme Speed Motorsports is the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. on Aug. 8-10.
CORE reaches podium
CORE autosport rebounded from an early setback at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to finish third at the Brickyard Grand Prix, the latest round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Colin Braun and Jon Bennett were looking forward to starting their first race at Indianapolis from the pole position in the Prototype Challenge category, but unfortunately, when Bennett missed the entrance to pit-in during the pre-race procedures, race officials directed him to start the No. 54 from the back of the grid.
Undeterred, Bennett put his head down and after 35 minutes of racing, including two re-starts from yellow, he had the No. 54 ORECA FLM09 from 10th to sixth in class. His position was further boosted by the excellent pit work of the CORE autosport crew, which advanced him into fifth during the third full-course yellow.
The third full-course yellow was especially long owing to track repairs. The minimum drive time for silver-rated drivers elapsed during this caution period, causing another slew of pit stops for the PC cars. This gave the CORE crew another chance to shine; even with a driver change to Braun, the team was able to pick up another spot in the pits. When the race finally returned to green, Braun was P4.
He wasn’t fourth for long. Three minutes after the restart, Braun was in the PC lead. The lead turned out to be short-lived for the No. 54, however. Braun was reeled back in as he struggled to fight through traffic. This combined with a need to conserve fuel prohibited a late-race charge and Braun inevitably crossed the finish line in third-place.
The podium finish was more than enough to maintain the team’s lead in the PC Championship with four rounds remaining.