Bryan Sellers Finds It Hard To Pick Just One Highlight From Strong Season
BRASELTON, Ga., - Ask Bryan Sellers what the highlight of his 2012 season was and the likeable Braselton, Ga.-resident will find it tough to narrow the selection to just one thing. If 2011 had been the breakout season for the Falken Tire factory driver, 2012 proved why he is one of the hottest commodities in the sport. Sellers increased his career American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) race-win tally, added a number of GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) podiums to his lifetime results and was honored as the Most Popular Driver in the ALMS. With fulltime rides co-driving the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Porsche with Wolf Henzler (Germany) in the ALMS and the No. 46 BCKSTGR/Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 in CTSCC with Mark Boden (Winnetka, Ill.) set to continue in 2013, most pundits expect more of the same next year.
On-track, Sellers' year was bookended by impressive drives that, despite coming-up short of victory lane, proved the immense talent of the Ohio-native. An inspired run on the high-banks of Daytona in the CTSCC season-opener, gave notice to the paddock that he intended to support co-driver Boden all the way to the owner/driver's first CTSCC GS class championship. However, several incidents not of the 46-car's making left the operation out of title contention in the end. But, to prove their point, Sellers/Boden sped to two podium finishes (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park) to close the year on a high-note. The trio of podiums was good enough to lift Sellers and Boden to seventh in the final CTSCC driver standings.
Sellers also traveled across the GRAND-AM paddock twice to take part in the Rolex Sports Car Series GT class. In the legendary Rolex 24 At Daytona, he drove the Goldcrest Motorsports/Burtin Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. The effort challenged for the lead early but eventually retired keeping Sellers from securing his third-career Rolex 24 podium finish. He ran a second Rolex GT race with TRG in the Six Hours of The Glen. Again, Sellers fought with the leaders at Watkins Glen International but an incident during a co-driver's stint ended the race in disappointment.
In ALMS, the dual-development of the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with the ongoing tire work caused early struggles for the Falken operation. Showing signs of brilliance several times, the combination came into perfect sync on the city streets of Baltimore. In a nearly identical replay of the 2011 victory there, Henzler started the No. 17 before handing the car to Sellers. Sellers fought a determined Corvette for much of his stint before ultimately putting a definitive stamp on the event by holding-off the faster machine with his racecraft.
For his season-long ALMS effort, which included the win at Baltimore, two fourth-place finishes and his 50th career start (Petit Le Mans), Sellers was awarded eighth in the Driver Championship. In addition, he helped Porsche's four-car 911 GT3 RSR GT class effort capture second in the Manufacturer Championship, Falken to third in the Tire constructors battle and Team Falken Tire to fifth in the Team Championship.
Narrowing-down Sellers' top moment of 2012 was made even tougher by off-track honors the young racer achieved. The most prestigious, and humbling, privilege of the year came as the fans voted him as the "American Le Mans Series Most Popular Driver" for 2012. The annual prize goes to the driver, in any of the sport's five classes, deemed the most admired based on an extensive online vote at www.ALMS.com. Another momentous career milestone came as the USF2000 Championship named the 2002 Champion to its Series' Hall of Fame.
Though we are yet to turn the calendar from 2012, 2013 is already very much underway. Since the Petit Le Mans-finale, Sellers has traveled to Japan in early November to discuss tire construction with Falken Tire. In addition, he has taken part in a pre-season test with Fall-Line Motorsports at Road Atlanta and an ALMS test at Sebring International Raceway on December 5-7 with Team Falken Tire. More travel, this time to Porsche headquarters in Germany, came immediately following the Sebring test as the German marque celebrated its annual "Night of Champions" - a draw to Porsche racers from around the globe. Despite the holidays, Sellers' schedule will slow very little. The "Roar Before the 24" - GRAND-AM testing at Daytona International Raceway - comes the first week of January, the race weekend itself at the end of the month. Sellers' seat in the Rolex 24 will be in the coming weeks by the team. ALMS testing will continue throughout the lead-up to the March 16 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (International Raceway). Included is the official ALMS Winter Test at Sebring, February 5-8.
All told, 2012 continued the momentum Sellers began in 2011 and it seems likely to keep rolling through 2013. What accomplishments will Sellers be asked to rank this time next year?
On the highlight of his 2012 season: "It's very difficult to say where the high point through the season was for me. There are so many moments that stand out that it makes it hard to narrow them down. Baltimore was, obviously, a huge moment for myself and everybody at Team Falken Tire. In any sport to repeat a win is a very difficult thing to accomplish, but we were able to do so, and the manner in which we did it made it a little sweeter. It was such a hard-fought race and those are always the most rewarding.
I would be remiss though if I didn't mention the string of podiums at the end of the season with Fall-Line Motorsports. We were so strong all year and that's how our season should have gone. We started off so strong and then had a string of bad luck. Those last two races we were back up to our full potential and had a little bit of 'Lady Luck' back on our side. If I had to pick one moment out of the two, I would have to go with Baltimore. Ultimately winning is what we are all here to do and what makes us strive to be better so, in the end, it is also the only thing that will satisfy us."
On what he would like to forget from 2012: "I wish we could have eliminated the Barber race in CTSCC. That race was a complete cluster and Mark was caught in a terrible incident that was unavoidable. That, unfortunately, started a string of bad luck that was really hard for us to claw our way out of. I have said it so many times, but momentum really can determine the outcome of the season. Barber shut us down very quickly and took a lot of work to pull our way out of. It would be nice to pass a magic wand over that race and make it go away."
On the importance of continuing with Team Falken Tire and Fall-Line in 2013: "Continuity is often something that is overlooked. I am very fortunate and honored to be returning to both the Team Falken Tire Porsche and the BCKSTGR/Fall-Line BMW. I have developed so many strong friendships at both places. It makes the start of the season flow so much smoother because there is no adaptation to learning the teams and the people. We can get to work immediately and set our goals on wins."