TUSC: Braun, Huff earn PC class rides

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Add Colin Braun and Rob Huff to the list of confirmed drivers for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The talented young American (Braun) and 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion (Huff) will each race in the PC class, as Braun continues with CORE autosport and Huff will race selected events with Starworks Motorsport.

Braun will team for his third full season at CORE with team principal and co-driver Jon Bennett, in the renumbered No. 54 ORECA FLM09 (had been No. 05). The team has won the PC class championship the last three seasons since entering in the American Le Mans Series in 2011. Braun made his GT class debut in CORE’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the second half of last year (pictured) but will bolster the team’s PC effort.

“It feels great to be back with this CORE autosport team and with Jon as my co-driver,” Braun said in a release. “Over the past two years I’ve seen what this team is capable of and winning the team championship the past three years shows that I’m with a championship-caliber team, which is where every race car driver wants to be.  This team really has become like family and I am very glad to be keeping our tight knit group of guys together for 2014 as well.”

Huff, meanwhile, will make his prototype race debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and is Starworks’ third confirmed PC class driver in 2014, alongside Sam Bird and Isaac Tutumlu. Starworks is yet to announce pairings for the full season. Huff is expected to race in Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans with another full WTCC season also on tap.

“I’m looking forward to pitting myself against such a vast mix of world-renowned drivers from the highest echelons of single-seater and sports car racing – it will provide me with a real benchmark for my own performances – and it will be particularly as part of the newly-unified Grand-Am and American Le Mans championships – the USSC – which has massive potential,” he said in a release.

Valiant efforts from Hunter-Reay, Dixon come up just short at Road America

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon drove about as hard as they possibly could during Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, and they both drove nearly perfect races.

Hunter-Reay took advantage of Will Power’s engine issues on the start to immediately jump into second, and stalked pole sitter and leader Josef Newgarden from there, often staying within only a couple car lengths of his gearbox.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a tougher chore after qualifying a disappointing 12th. Further, he was starting in the same lane as Will Power, and when Power had engine issues when the green flag waved, Dixon was one of several drivers who was swamped in the aftermath.

Scott Dixon had to come from deep in the field on Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

However, as is his style, he quietly worked his way forward, running sixth after the opening round of pit stops, and then working his way up to third after the second round of stops.

It all meant that, after Lap 30, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon were nose-to-tail at the front, with the latter two in position to challenge for the win.

Yet, neither was able to do so. Hunter-Reay never got close enough to try to pass Newgarden, while Dixon couldn’t do so on either Hunter-Reay or Newgarden. And, neither driver went longer in their final stint – Dixon was actually the first of that group to pit, doing so on Lap 43, with Hunter-Reay and Newgarden pitting together one lap later.

And Newgarden pulled away in the final stint, winning by over three seconds, leaving Hunter-Reay and Dixon to finish second and third.

It was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, with Hunter-Reay noting that he felt like he had enough to challenge for a win.

“I felt like we had the pace for (Newgarden), especially in the first two stints,” he asserted. “I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint – I didn’t know when it was going to come.”

He added that, if he could do it over again, he would have been more aggressive and tried to pass Newgarden in the opening stint.

“In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can’t really go hard.”

Dixon, meanwhile, expressed more disappointment in the result, asserting that qualifying better would have put him in a possibly race-winning position.

“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” he expressed.

The disappointment for Dixon also stems from the knowledge that his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda had the pace to win, especially longer into a run.

“The car was pretty good on the long stint,” he asserted. “I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

“I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn 14), got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.”

Dixon remains in the championship lead, however, by 45 points, while Hunter-Reay moved up to second, tied with Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi.

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