Fuel strategy played a role throughout the two-hour, 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America and came to the fore in the closing minutes when Colin Braun jumped two positions to take the checkered flag first.
Braun, who qualified third in the No. 54 ORECA 07 he shares with Jonathan Bennett, was handed the car once Bennett completed roughly 32 minutes of driving after CORE autosport again accepted a last-place start to change its starting driver.
Despite initially bringing up the rear of the Prototype field, the CORE entry managed to climb through the running order on the strength of Braun’s pace and a three-stop strategy.
Nearing the checkered flag, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Jordan Taylor led overall but pitted with 5:36 remaining on the race clock, promoting Jonathan Bomarito and the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P to the top spot.
This year’s visit to Road America was not meant to be Mazda Team Joest’s first victory, however, as Bomarito was forced to bring the Riley-based Mazda DPi down the long pit lane just one lap after assuming control of the field for his own splash of fuel.
With the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R and the No. 55 Mazda out of the way, Braun became the leader and proved he had enough in the tank to last through to the checkers.
By a final margin of 2.389 seconds over JDC-Miller Motorsports’ Stephen Simpson, Braun secured the second consecutive overall win for the CORE team following their successful outing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Simpson made it two ORECA-built LMP2 cars atop the field as he crossed the start-finish line 2.397 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Felipe Nasr who ensured Action Express Racing was the top DPi team of the day.
Taylor in the Konica Minolta Cadillac and Dane Cameron in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 were the best-finishing drivers in cars that made four pit stops during the event as they rounded out the top five.
Filipe Albuquerque brought the second Action Express Cadillac home in seventh, more than 30 seconds ahead of Bomarito in the No. 55 Mazda which ended up eighth. The Nissan Onroak DPi machines of Tequila Patron ESM were split at the end by these cars as they are scored sixth and ninth.
Helio Castroneves and his co-driver Ricky Taylor completed the top 10 in the second Acura DPi from Team Penske. Oliver Jarvis, in the No. 77 Mazda during its final stint, ensured the car was the final one on the lead lap as he finished Lap 69 in 11th.
A drive-through penalty and off-track excursion at Canada Corner for pole sitter Robert Alon ruined the day for the No. 85 JDC-Miller ORECA and led to a 12th-place finish. Only AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports was behind after its Ligier JS P217 crashed twice.
While the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona categories will be in action at VIRginia International Raceway in two weeks, the flagship Prototype class will race next in a month at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.