1600: Colin Braun Buttonwillow race report

BUTTONWILLOW, Calif., Oct. 20 - Colin Braun had the kind of weekend last Saturday and Sunday at Buttonwillow Raceway Park that all drivers dream about, let alone ones that are only 15 years old. When Braun and his family loaded up their Fran...

BUTTONWILLOW, Calif., Oct. 20 - Colin Braun had the kind of weekend last Saturday and Sunday at Buttonwillow Raceway Park that all drivers dream about, let alone ones that are only 15 years old.

When Braun and his family loaded up their Fran Am 1600 car and headed home to Ovalo, Texas on Sunday night, the young star looked back on a weekend that saw him not only earn two victories but also take two poles, set two fastest race laps and establish two track records. The two victories were numbers four and five in an incredible winning streak and extended his number of victories for the year to seven.

Braun will have just enough time to get home and pack and re-pack the trailer for this coming weekend's season-finale doubleheader at Arizona Motorsports Park in Litchfield, Ariz., an event he enters as the leader of the point standing by 29 points.

Fran Am 1600 was designed to prepare young drivers for careers as professional race car drivers, and last weekend's lesson was all about saving one's tires.

A shortage of tires forced the series' officials to require all the teams to use tires from the last race in Phoenix.

"With the budget Colin has had this year, he has been picking through the tires the Fran Am 2000 Pro teams have junked and practicing on their throw-away tires all year," his father admitted. "That ended up being good practice for this weekend."

For Saturday's race, the young driver captured the pole by .8 of a second on used tires. John Knudsen threatened at the start but by the end of lap one Braun had a 1-second lead. He extended that by .6 of a second a lap, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process, to take the victory by seven seconds over Brad Coleman. Knudsen took the final podium position.

The tires situation was no better on Sunday, and qualifying for that race was a nail-biter. Braun had the pole for most of the session until, with a minimum of two laps left, Coleman beat that time by .2 of a second.

That didn't sit well with Braun. In a last-ditch effort he locked his left-front tire into the "Star Mazda" corner but still recorded his fastest first segment of the weekend and went on to nab the pole with a lap that was .7 of a second faster than Coleman's best time and .4 of a second faster than his own track record set 24 hours earlier.

Although that was indeed nice, the tires were really getting worn and the flat spot from the lock-up in quals didn't help the situation when Sunday's race started.

At the green Braun held the inside, with Coleman outside of him and Darryl O'Young third. O'Young slipped into second in the first turn, but by the end of lap one Braun had a .5-second lead over him.

"The car was working great in most of the track, but it was a handful in the last turn," the winner said later.

Coleman passed O'Young for second around the halfway point but neither had anything for Braun, who took the checkered with a 4-second lead despite a wicked understeer from his badly-worn rubber.

The event organizers had a team member present the trophies on Sunday. Braun received his from his younger brother, Travis. The latter was asked to give a speech on the podium. He kept it simple, just saying, "Please buy my book."

The 13-year-old recently published his third book, "The Silent Shadow," a mystery for young readers ala The Hardy Boys series.

Details on his older brother's racing activities can be found at www.tracc5.com and www.fran-am.com.

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