by Travis Braun
Seventeen-year-old Colin Braun and two-time Champ Car World Series race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay were both selected to join 14 other drivers at a one day driver development test for General Motors.
The test – the first of three parts – took place on September 12, 2006 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, North Carolina, where the drivers rotated through two Richard
Childress Racing (RCR) NASCAR Busch Series cars.
The drivers were not competing for any particular honor, but instead got the opportunity to drive in front of people like NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, Ron Hornaday Jr., Kevin Harvick's Busch crew chief, Pat Smith, and all the other GM representatives.
As well as impressive résumés, both Hunter-Reay and Braun spent the major portion of 2006 turning heads in the Grand-Am series. Hunter-Reay competed in five Grand Touring (GT) races this year where he scored two podiums. He also drove in the final race at Miller Motorsports Park in the SunTrust Racing Daytona Prototype (DP).
Braun ran the full Grand-Am schedule this year driving the Krohn Racing #76 DP, where he claimed two victories. Despite their level of experience, the two drivers had very little time in a stock car heading into the event.
“I went and did a couple of laps in a late model,” Hunter-Reay said. “Then I went and did a school Busch car in Kansas, but that was all way before [the test], and a school car relates nothing to a race car.”
Nevertheless, the two drivers happily spent Monday at the RCR Busch shop, looking over the cars and seeing how they fit.
“We went to the Busch shop, and the cars there are immaculately prepared,” Braun said,. Everyone looks like they know exactly what they are doing.”
That confidence was maintained by the team, because on Tuesday morning GM and RCR wasted no time getting the drivers into the cars. They originally planned to split the group of sixteen drivers up over two days of running, but with rain in the forecast, the event was squeezed entirely into Tuesday. Consequently, some drivers would be running into the night.
Two of those drivers – Hunter-Reay and Braun – observed most of the day's activities to try and learn from the other drivers' runs. Hunter-Reay said, “It was good to watch the first five or six guys go, but then once it got to another six guys. You start over-thinking the difficulty of what you're going to go do.”