Bryan Sellers Earns First TUDOR Championship Victory of Season
Falken Tire Driver and Team Fight Through Changing Conditions for 6th Career Win
Watkins Glen, New York, June 29, 2015 - You can forgive fans for making comparisons between Bryan Sellers' sixth major career sports car racing victory in Sunday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen and his first in 2011. Both came with the Braselton, Georgia-resident sharing the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 with longtime teammate and friend Wolf Henzler (Germany). Both came somewhat unexpected. Both came with strong pit strategy and equally strong driving winning the day. And both came in treacherous and changing weather conditions. The fifth-round of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class saw torrential rains hamper the on track activity at Watkins Glen International. However, that played into the hands of the strategy of pit lane and the drivers wheeling the blue and teal entry to the program's first victory of 2015
The weekend, the first back on track for the class since the early May race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, was a mostly rained-on affair from the start. With storms pounding the track and standing water around the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course, qualifying was canceled on Saturday. The grid was set on points, positioning the No. 17 seventh for the start. Sellers took the green flag on racing slicks but, when storms returned, he was forced to stop within the first ten laps to switch to wet-weather Falken tires. The change bettered Sellers' times against the competition but lost the team a lap. Pit strategy made that up during the first caution period setting-up the run to victory. Sellers moved the car into the top-two before a red flag for even heavier showers stopped the race for 14-minutes with one-hour and 22-minutes remaining. Once back to green, the driving by both pilots positioned the car well for the final sprint to the end, strategy again came into play. Team Falken Tire opted to keep Henzler on course, gambling that the caution would be enough to stretch the fuel load to the end. This move gave the No. 17 the lead but risked the flat-six Porsche engine being starved for fuel if calculations were wrong.
A final caution flag would fly with eight minutes remaining on the clock while Henzler held a lead of over nine-seconds. There would be no restart this time. The German gingerly brought the Falken Porsche 911 RSR under the checkered flag balancing the shrinking fuel load and wet conditions. Just as in that inaugural 2011 win at the Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course, Henzler and Sellers celebrated a come-from-behind victory. The GTLM win was good for tenth overall in the race, only three laps behind the overall winning No. 90 Corvette Daytona Prototype entry.
The June 28 win keeps Sellers' string of consecutive season victories alive at five (2011-2015). Five TUDOR Championship GTLM races remain this year in which to add to the overall tally. Among the races left is the season-finale at Seller's home track, Road Atlanta, for the Petit Le Mans. Sellers and Henzler have scored the class victory there the last two seasons. Since coming to sports car racing from a successful junior career in open wheel racing, the native of Ohio has scored his half-dozen sports car race wins as a Falken Tire factory driver. He joined the program at its inception in 2009. Porsche factory driver Henzler came to team in 2010. In 2011, the pair won that first race at Mid-Ohio followed by the first of two consecutive wins on the streets of Baltimore (2011, 2012). The "Petit" titles came in 2013 and 2014. The first four races, up until 2014, came in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) while today's win and last year's Petit victory are under the TUDOR banner. Sellers has one previous sports car victory here at Watkins Glen International. The upstate New York-track hosted his first Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) win with Fall-Line Motorsports in 2012. The father of one scored a second CTSCC win with Fall-Line weeks later at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With the victory at "The Glen" and a podium result in the Mobil 1 Twelve hours of Sebring in March, Sellers unofficially moves to third in the GTLM driver standings tied with Henzler. The ranking is the highest he has been in the IMSA-sanctioned series to-date. Round Six of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is scheduled for July 12 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario Canada.
On the race: "It was a great race for Team Falken Tire. We struggled early in the week for speed in both the wet and dry conditions. We were able to work overnight on Saturday and find a good compromise for both because we weren't sure how the race was going to play out but we thought right down the middle on setup was our best bet. When the race started, it was a little bit of difficult conditions for us and we found ourselves dug in a bit of a hole that we had to dig ourselves back out of. I think a lot of people will look at this race and think we were meant to win because it was in the rain. But if you really look into the stats you'll see we established ourselves in the middle of the race and we were able to hang on at the end in the wet. That is very different than our win at Mid-Ohio. It was a great team win. The endurance races always showcase the whole team as a group. It was a great Porsche win, the first for them this season, and we are proud to have delivered that. We are very happy to get one more win as a group, as Team Falken Tire and Porsche. We are far from done but we have this one in the books."