2017 Year in Review: Jon Bennett
FINISH: 10th in GRC Lites points
2017 RESULTS: 8 starts, best finish 5th, 1 heat win, 281 points
2016 RESULTS: 5 starts, best finish 7th, 51 points
THE GOOD: In his second GRC Lites season, Bennett took a step forward by earning his first heat victory in Louisville and following it up with his first career top five. It was a big weekend for CORE autosport, as both Bennett and teammate Colin Braun landed heat wins and top-five results for the first time since joining the series in the middle of the 2016 season.
Unlike last season, Bennett also found himself in fewer last chance qualifiers. After running in the LCQ in all five starts he made last season, he only found himself in two this year, and advanced into the final in both. A second-place finish in the first Atlantic City semifinal also gave Bennett his best starting position in a main event since making his debut.
THE BAD: After a strong start to the season, Bennett’s Ottawa and Atlantic City doubleheaders didn’t quite build upon the momentum. A Saturday engine failure in Canada saw him take home only three points from the first leg, while Sunday wasn’t much better, with last-place finishes in each of his heats and semifinals and only a ninth place finish in the main event.
Atlantic City, meanwhile, represented the end of Bennett’s eight-race program for 2017. A pair of ninth place finishes on Saturday and Sunday capped a disappointing weekend. Sunday’s heat results saw a sixth place run in the first round and a disqualification from the second round.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “GRC Lites is massively different from our racing in IMSA. Colin and I always enjoy the GRC weekends. Colin has been really competitive, and I have had success as well. In any event, the most important thing is that my level of competitiveness is getting strong and stronger and it’s a short time before I’m on the podium and contending for race wins going forward. The team has a great chemistry.”
2018 PROGNOSIS: The more experience that drivers tend to earn in Lites cars, the faster they tend to get. Bennett’s early-season results showed that clearly this year.
Photo credit: Louis Yio