Posted (04/07/2016) -
Team Sahlen inaugural event of the 2016 race calendar was the 14 Hour ChumpCar event at Daytona International Speedway. The Team had entered 3 Mazda RX-7s for the event: #141-Charcoal, #242- Ketchup & #243-Mustard. The drivers for the race would be Joe & Joseph Sahlen and Joe, Wayne & Will Nonnamaker. Set up and Tech were on Friday of the event. The day was beautiful, in the mid to high 70s. The day went very smoothly, with time to spare for a little photo opportunity in front of the garages at the end of the day.
The weather on Saturday morning was not so nice. The skies were overcast and windy. As the cars rolled off the grid, the track was still dry. This left Team Sahlen with little choice than to leave the Mazdas on the shaved slick tires. As the pace laps started, so did the rain from the sky. At this point, Team Sahlen made a quick decision to pit all 3 cars for rain tires. Before pitting for tires, the Sahlen racers were rolling around in the random ordered grid in approximately 70th position. Out of a stroke of pure luck, as the Sahlen racers rolled from the pits, the race went to green, and the team moved up to 20th and 21st respectively.
The rain was quite ferocious in the 1st 2 hours. And Team Sahlen was not immune to the deluge on the track. All three cars suffered off road and car to car contacts. Not related to any contact, #242 choose to go into limp mode. A cure was not able to be found at the track, and Ketchup was forced to retire before the 2 hour mark.
Despite early incidents that led to stops in the pits and garages, both Mustard and Charcoal rolled along on track. At the 3 hour mark, #243’s hood let loose from the early incident, breaking the front windshield, but still kept rolling along in the Top 10. At the 5 hour mark, Mustard found itself in a multi car wreck that could not be avoided. This carnage was enough to put it out of the race for good.
This left the honor of Team Sahlen in the hands of Charcoal to bring home a finish across the line in the 14 hour endurance event. All 5 Team Sahlen drivers took turns behind the wheel to bring the car home.
The final result after14 hours was 33rd in the ChumpCar race, out of 100+ racers. Not a bad finish, considering about 1 and half were spent in the garage for repairs. To top off the respectable finish was an excellent 5th fastest race lap in the event.
The next event planned for Team Sahlen will be the April 22nd – 24th Sahlen’s Sports Car Springfest at the Glen, with American Endurance Racing. This event will be dual 8 hour Endurance events on both Saturday and Sunday. Over 78+ entries are expected for this race event that will be the 1st on the new pavement at Watkins Glen International.
2016 Team Sahlen Campaign Partners:
Tarett Engineering, Guard Transmission, Porsche of Beachwood, Pittsburgh International Race Complex, HubstandsPRO, Brothers Grimm Landscaping, NGK Spark Plugs, CM Racing Products, Mothers Polishes, Grassroots Motorsports Magazine, Design Engineering Inc., Hard Brakes, Alcon Rotors, Lamin-X, Optima Batteries, Mazdaspeed and TheRaceSite.com.