- Kurtz, Braun take overall win in three-hour GT World Challenge Powered by AWS race
- Ben Keating teams with Kurtz, Braun to take Pro-Am class victory in Intercontinental GT Challenge’s Indianapolis 8 Hours
- No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT entry highest-finishing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Indianapolis 8 Hours
- Increased participation on and off track for Official Internet & Cloud Security Partner of SRO
- CrowdStrike/AWS hosted two virtual CXO Summits ahead of race weekend
INDIANAPOLIS - In a season full of highlights, CrowdStrike Racing saved its best for last. Drivers and teams under CrowdStrike closed the 2020 SRO Motorsports America season with four victories, six podiums and two championships at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
George Kurtz and Colin Braun scored their third victory of 2020 in GT World Challenge Powered by AWS on Sunday at Indianapolis. That wasn’t all for the No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 as the Kurtz/Braun pairing teamed with Ben Keating to take a Pro-Am class victory in the Intercontinental GT Challenge’s Indianapolis 8 Hours.
It was the latest in a weekend full of stellar showings for CrowdStrike as Kevin Boehm capped an incredible rookie season in the Touring Car America series by winning the TCA Drivers’ and Team championships, as well as TCA Rookie of Year, in the No. 9 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Honda Performance Development Civic Si.
Dovetailing on that, CJ Moses closed his rookie TCR season with a runner-up finish and a pole-position in the No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT HPD Civic Type R TCR. These, plus all of CrowdStrike’s off-track activities, made this weekend one for the ages.
GT WORLD CHALLENGE / INTERCONTINENTAL GT CHALLENGE
It’s not often that a team wins two races in the span of eight hours, but that’s exactly what Kurtz and Braun did at Indianapolis. The pairing drove the No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Mercedes-AMG GT3 to their second overall victory of the season and a third class win in the opening three hours of the IGTC race.
"It's a great end to the season. We did whatever we could to win, and that was our goal: come here to win the three hour race, which we did, and win the 8 Hours,” Kurtz said. “It was phenomenal running with Ben and Colin. I couldn't ask for better co-drivers. We had a great season. It was unfortunate that we couldn't shoot it out at COTA, but we'll be back next year. Second in the championship is a great result. Jeff Braun did a fantastic job on the box, Carlo Vermeulen with the strategy, and DXDT and CrowdStrike gave us a great car. Overall I'm excited for next year."
The three-hour race was a replacement for the postponed event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and each GT World Challenge team was required to run its regular two drivers in the opening three hours.
Kurtz began third in class and in less-than-ideal conditions with rain pelting IMS right as the race began. Kurtz stopped on the first lap to switch to grooved rain tires for better handling and traction on the damp racing surface. Kurtz maintained a clean run in cool, damp conditions – just above 50 degrees. The No. 04 moved up to second just after the second of five full-course cautions in the Eight Hours. The CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Mercedes-AMG made its first driver change just past the hour mark for a change to Braun; however race officials deemed the pit entry to be closed and Braun had to serve a drive-through penalty.
Although still on rain tires, Braun drove his way back through the field and advanced to second in class by the two-hour, 15-minute mark for a change to the optimal dry, slick tires. He re-entered the race fourth in class but again marched his way through the field, set the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap of the Race and took the lead for good with five minutes to go.
"For us, our goal was to win the three-hour race and then win the Eight Hours,” Braun said. “We were able to accomplish both of those, which was awesome. That was the main focus. The championship was going to be what it was going to be. That was more in the hands of the No. 1 having an issue. For us, it was great weekend obviously. Practice and qualifying were a little bit of a setup for us and a bit of a wave-off. We just focused on our racecar on full tanks of fuel, figuring out pit-ins, pit-outs and all those kinds of things where you can make up a little time. It all paid off and in the race, we were able to use those little things we learned in practice to put it together. Driving with Ben and George, those guys are two of the best Bronze drivers in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 car. I couldn't really ask much more from those guys. They did an awesome job, and the team did a great job on all the stops. We kept our nose clean, were smart and kept at it all day."
There was still work to do, although some solid tire strategy and stints by all three drivers gave the No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Mercedes as much as a two-lap lead just past the halfway point. The drivers, crew and engineers ran the rest of the way minimizing mistakes to finish fifth overall and as the highest-finishing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the race.
"This has been an awesome event. It's my first Intercontinental GT Challenge event, and it's been a blast,” Keating said. “I've really enjoyed running with George and Colin. We get along great, and it's a great team. I've enjoyed DXDT and I'm familiar with the Mercedes-AMG. I've enjoyed working with Colin's dad (Jeff Braun) in calling strategy and engineering the car. It hasn't been an easy weekend for us because we had been struggling, but we spent the whole practice time try to set the car up for the race - full fuel and doing lots of different things instead of going for a fast lap time, and I think that paid off in the race. I'm really happy with how it all happened. I'm so excited for these guys (George Kurtz and Colin Braun). The No. 1 goal was to win the three-hour race, which they did for their championship. The No. 2 goal was to win the eight-hour race, and we checked both boxes.”
BEYOND THE TRACK
CrowdStrike’s participation and impact at Indianapolis Motor Speedway went well beyond the racetrack to conclude a season where it proved to be not just a thought leader in cybersecurity but also in developing unique presentations and content.
CrowdStrike ended the 2020 SRO America season with not one but two of its popular Virtual CXO Summits, sponsored by AWS. Each high-value gathering is an opportunity for CrowdStrike’s invited guests to learn from internet and cybersecurity leaders on emerging topics within the industry.
CXO participants heard from CrowdStrike executives on how to effectively lead staff members while many of their employees continue to work from home. Among the key points included ways to effectively manage the digital and physical security of workforces in this remote age.
CrowdStrike also broadcast an exclusive live stream of the full Indianapolis 8 Hours, which highlighted the CrowdStrike Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3’s drive to its pair of victories. Boehm and Moses both provided insight throughout the race, as did a number of other special guests including driver Ben Keating, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, GT World Challenge America leadership and Operation Motorsport, among others. Technical insight came via P1Software and tools from Amazon Web Services to give fans the most complete analysis of GT World Challenge competition.
In addition, CrowdStrike continued its support of SRO America and recognizing its competitors. The drivers in SRO Motorsports America that accumulated most CrowdStrike Fastest Lap awards at each SRO America event – in GT World Challenge America, Pirelli GT4 America Sprint and SprintX and TC America – each received a year-end reward from CrowdStrike.
OPERATION MOTORSPORT SUPPORT
The Indianapolis weekend also wrapped up another successful season of partnership between CrowdStrike and Operation Motorsport, which places retired or injured service members within teams during the weekend. It is one of many ways CrowdStrike supports and lifts up those who have sacrificed by their military service.
One of Operation Motorsports’ military veterans – Staff Sgt. William Babineau (Ret.) – joined Kevin Boehm’s No. 9 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT HPD Civic Si team for the championship-clinching weekend. Staff Sgt. Babineau was part of the No. 9 crew for the last three events and was a key component to Boehm’s championship run.
Those are the kinds of opportunities that Operation Motorsport and CrowdStrike strive to provide. OpMo’s goal is to assist veterans transition into new careers following their military service. Operation Motorsport is a veteran-led and operated, not-for-profit (US 501(c)(3)) that serves American & Canadian service members and veterans.
The GT World Challenge Powered by AWS and TC America championships begin their 2021 seasons March 5-7 at Sonoma Raceway. For future information on the series, visit crowdstrikeracing.com.