Paired with lifelong open-wheeler and IndyCar veteran Jack Harvey, Colin Braun watched on Monday at Sebring International Raceway’s short course as the Briton pushed the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda to a best lap of 53.076s around the 1.6-mile circuit during the faster afternoon session.

On his first opportunity to drive an IndyCar, and in the same afternoon setting on Tuesday, Braun took DCR’s sister No. 51 Honda to a lap of 52.916s, 0.160s faster than Harvey’s quickest tour in identical settings. The late invitation to drive confirmed what was expected: Braun’s fast and has what it takes to race in the series.

If Coyne was waiting to see how Braun performed before making him an offer to race in next week’s season opener at St. Petersburg, he has his answer.

“Dale’s given a lot of drivers a look,” DCR team manager Mitch Davis, who recommended Braun to Coyne, told RACER. “We did this with Justin Wilson (in 2009) and we went and got the team’s first win at Watkins Glen. At first Dale said, ‘Colin Braun? I don’t recognize that name.’ And once he learned about him, he was excited to get him in the car.

“Dale’s one of the nicest guys in the world and loves IndyCar racing and is always looking for the next type of talent. And I think we’ve found a great guy. He and Jack got along really well; they were joking and talking about the car a lot and hit it off. A bunch of people have been rooting for Colin to get a chance to be in IndyCar and I had drivers coming up to me saying how happy they were to see him and everybody was stoked that he was here.”

Given Braun’s lack of open-wheel experience after spending the last 20 years of his life in NASCAR or sports car machinery, the transition to a lighter car with lots of power and downforce and no roof was a daunting proposition.

For Braun, who ranks among the elite professional drivers for hire in global endurance racing, the call from Coyne to sample an IndyCar came with no time to feel its performance in a simulator, but that didn’t deter the 35-year-old from western Texas who’s known for his attacking driving style and top-tier technical feedback.

“What an opportunity!” Braun told RACER. “First off, huge thanks to Dale for putting it together for me. Obviously, getting the chance to drive in IndyCar and do a full test day was pretty darn special. It was a dream kind of thing for me. I enjoyed it, and once the big smile came off my face after the first few laps, then it was down to work and trying to figure out what makes these cars work and go fast, and what kind of driving style they need.

“I was happy to make progress all day and get better and better on all three new-tire runs. Yeah, it would have been really nice for me as a rookie to have a couple more sets of tires, just to keep the driving progression going. But it was actually really educational because it’s tough to drive this car as the tires fall off, and although I was driving better, the lap times didn’t show it because I was trying to work through the tire (degradation phase) and put all that together. It made for a good, good challenge and it was a lot of fun.”

Braun appreciated Harvey’s help at the test and credited Coyne for some driving tips that eased his rapid-fire day.

“I got to spend Monday listening into what Jack and our engineer were working through and tried my best to jump in and take off from where they left off; working with Jack and the team was great,” Braun said. “We made a bunch of changes and it was just down to me to give them my feedback, and I was fortunate Jack was able to stay around and to see that our feedback was surprisingly similar.

“And then Dale was out on the corners and what a great guy, with so much experience to lean on. Having him there and super involved on the radio was awesome.”

As of Tuesday evening, the team had yet to confirm its drivers to open the season, but it wouldn’t be a a total surprise if Coyne held onto them for St. Petersburg, at a minimum.

Outside of IMSA LMP2 and SRO GT3 championship events, and a few other big international endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans that are already on his schedule, Braun’s r acing calendar could accommodate quite a few IndyCar races if more invitations were offered.

“I think after a good day like today, and at 35, to finally get a taste of this that I’ve always wanted… of course I wouldn’t want it to be my last time in an IndyCar. But let’s see where it goes and if there’s nothing else, I had a great time and got to be part of a really special team for a day,” he said,

“I’m leaving here not being pleased or really satisfied with myself because I still have a lot to refine and get better on as a driver. But that pushes you and makes you hungry for the next opportunity to come and be part of. It’s the natural thing for every racecar driver. Once you start to dip your toe in the water, you just want to keep going, so I hope I gave them some good feedback and helped in some kind of way that might be useful.”