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CORE ready to repeat victory on the Long Beach streets

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After victory at Sebring in March, CORE autosport is ready to attack the streets of Long Beach – the site of the team’s first-ever pole position and win – for this Saturday’s two-hour Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.

Two pairs of drivers will take on the shortest race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season on the challenging 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit. Team owner and founderJon Bennett will be paired with season-long co-driver, motorsports phenom Colin Braun in the #05 Composite Resources ORECA FLM09, while Sebring-winning driver Alex Popow is co-driving with Long Beach veteran Ryan Dalziel in the sister #06 Soloson Import machine.

CORE autosport, competing in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class, was a new team in 2011 and had never competed at a street course prior to last year. The victory at Long Beach propelled the team to a successful season – winning the 2011 ALMS LMPC driver and team championships.

The 2012 ALMS season began with the team on a high, and that did not change despite a new driver lineup – scoring first and third positions at the legendary Sebring International Raceway. For that event, winner Popow co-drove with IZOD IndyCar Series star E.J. Viso and sports car regular Burt Frisselle, while the combination of Bennett, Braun and Eric Lux finished a strong third place.

For Long Beach only two drivers are needed per car, and Viso, who is unavailable due to his IndyCar schedule at the event, was replaced by Dalziel, a teammate of Popow’s in GRAND-AM and a former winner at Long Beach. Dalziel’s first event in his storied U.S. racing career was at the venue in 2002.

Since the Sebring win in mid-March, the CORE driver lineup has been very busy keeping their skills up to par. Braun drove in the World Challenge event at St. Petersburg, while Popow also drove at St. Petersburg, but in a Ferrari Challenge event, where he scored a pole and victory. Both Popow and Dalziel competed in GRAND-AM events at Barber Motorsports Park. Bennett did a lot of time behind the wheel of a kart, and opened the new CORE autosport headquarters, a world-class 30,000 sq. ft. facility located right next to its parent company, Composite Resources.

There was also cause for off-track celebration, as Braun was married to his longtime girlfriend Melissa on Saturday, April 7.

The 2012 Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach will take place on Saturday, April 14 at the temporary street course in Long Beach, Calif. On Friday, April 13, the team will practice for two hours at 7:15 a.m. PT / 10:15 a.m. ET, with LMPC qualifying at 5:50 p.m. PT / 8:50 p.m. ET, which can be seen live on-line at ESPN3. Saturday’s race will be broadcast live at 4:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and on-line at ESPN3. Live timing and scoring can be found on the ALMS website at

Jon Bennett : “Long Beach holds some great memories for us, as the team’s first win and pole position. I’m really looking forward to going back this year to build on our experience, for the team and for me – it was my first-ever street race. Last year there were so many unknowns, but now we can build upon our experience and optimize our performance.
“The event has a great history and it’s exciting to drive there, for the challenging track as well as the festival atmosphere. The track itself is pretty tough – it’s not that smooth, has lots of concrete and very little runoff area. It really rewards precision driving, something I’m comfortable with.
“Overall I think that between myself and Colin, who has got a lot of experience on street courses, we should be in a good position for success this weekend.”

Colin Braun : “I’ve only raced at Long Beach once in a GRAND-AM car and I really like the track. It’s going to be a very different experience this time because the LMPC car is lighter, has much better brakes and of course has no roof, which opens up your field of vision incredibly.
“We do have some challenges ahead of us as a team, but I think the biggest one is that there are only two hours of practice for the whole event, and it’s first thing in the morning on Friday. The track will be pretty dusty and dirty and it will take an hour to clear out the track and get some rubber laid down, and hopefully the second hour we can really work on the car.
“We really won’t be out there again for any length of time until almost Saturday night, after cars have been out there for nearly two full days, which will change the surface of the track a lot. So it’ll be interesting predicting what the track will do from the morning to the evening, from no cars to a lot of cars out there.
“I realized that at Sebring, my last stint was three and a half hours. If you add up the time I’ll be in the car at Long Beach, it may be only half that.
“The traffic on street courses will also be tough – with more than 30 cars out there of varying speeds, it’s a good thing that I’ll be able to see as much as I can in the #05 car because you’ve got to be smart, safe and fast to get through it all.
“The fans are going to love this event. It will be action-packed from start to finish!”

Alex Popow : “I’ve not driven at Long Beach before but I have some experiences on street courses, including a few weeks back when I raced in the Ferrari Challenge at St. Petersburg.
“I’m preparing for the event back in Venezuela, and I have got videos, including in-car and will be spending a lot of time on the simulators. Most importantly will be speaking with my co-driver Ryan, who knows this course very well and has driven just about every type of car out there.
“After Sebring and our success there, I know that CORE autosport will give me a good, fast car and now I know what to expect with bumpy surfaces. I think that we will be able to get out there, make it happen and be contenders for first place.”

Ryan Dalziel : “I am very happy to be driving at Long Beach this year, celebrating my 10-year anniversary of racing in the U.S. with a team that I really enjoy, CORE autosport, and to have Alex as my co-driver.
“I remember coming to the track for the first time in 2002 [in Toyota Atlantics] and it was this place that showed me how good, how competitive and how professional racing was in this country. I think it may have ‘sealed the deal’ as to why I’ve stayed in the U.S. and focused on driving in this country. What a first impression.
“I have driven many different kinds of cars at Long Beach, from Atlantics to Champ Car to different sports cars, and I think that it’s a really technical track but very fast. It can be difficult to get it right on some of the tight sections and the placement of the car really makes a difference on this course.
“Hopefully I can help Alex for his Long Beach debut, teach him what I know and keep up the pressure out there. I’d love to keep him on the top step of the podium and help him win his first ALMS championship, as well as the team’s second one.”

CORE autosport PR