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CORE autosport confirms GRC Lites return

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CORE autosport will continue in Red Bull Global Rallycross for 2017 in the GRC Lites class, again with a partial schedule.

Colin Braun and Jon Bennett share the team’s No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class, and that will take precedence on two GRC weekends that conflict.

They’ll be in Detroit (June 3) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (July 9) for IMSA when GRC is at Thompson, Ct. and Indianapolis, respectively.

This means the team is scheduled to compete in six weekends and nine of the 12 races, starting with the Memphis season opener next week. The GRC Lites race broadcast from Memphis is on NBCSN on Tuesday, May 2, at 5 p.m. ET.

Nonetheless the team will be back for its second season after scoring a handful of podiums in its debut season, including a double podium at the Los Angeles season finale weekend with Braun and Scott Anderson there. ORECA Gear will supply the team with steering wheels, seats and harnesses for both the No. 54 and No. 56 entries, to be driven by Bennett (No. 54) and Braun (No. 56) this season.

“When we debuted in GRC Lites last year, our goal was to familiarize ourselves with the cars, circuits and specifics of the series, but also to demonstrate how competitive we were by finishing on the podium,” CORE GRC Program Manager Brian Colangelo said. “Our preparation improved with each race and our four podium finishes proved that to be true. For 2017, we have our sights set on race wins and hope to establish ourselves as the team to beat in rallycross and a viable option for OEM partners.”

Bennett said, “Auto racing is my passion no matter what form it comes in. Taking part in my first Red Bull Global Rallycross season last year was a real eye-opener to this new genre of motorsport and a blast to experience. I enjoyed learning a totally different driving style and race craft, and being encouraged to have all four wheels leave the ground was fun!”

Braun added, “I love to experience all kinds of different race cars, so getting the opportunity to do GRC Lites last year was an awesome experience. One of the things I enjoy most about motorsports is the learning process and we had a lot of learning to do in 2016. I was on the podium three times and I know that this season, a win isn’t too far off. At CORE, we’re all about constantly improving and that makes me very eager to get back to work!”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.