Posted (06/01/2016) -
The Memorial Day weekend Chumpcar event held at Watkins Glen was a “Home” race for Team Sahlen’s. With the Sahlen’s Packing based just a few hours away in Buffalo, New York, the full Sahlens family was in attendance at the event. The weekend’s races were also being presented as the Sahlen’s Chumpyard DOG at the Glen event. And on track, Team Sahlen was represented by their 3 Mazda RX7s – Charcoal, Ketchup & Mustard
During Friday’s practice sessions, Joseph Sahlen & Jacob Grimm took turns driving Charcoal, getting re-acclimated to Chumpcar racing. Mustard made its 1st laps back on track after having been repaired from an accident at the recent Daytona 14 Hour Chumpcar event. Ketchup rolled out on track laying down some very competitive times vs the 100 car field.
That evening then saw the entire Chumpcar paddock treated to a Sahlen’s Tailgate party. All the racers enjoyed the delicious grilled Sahlen’s Hot Dogs and Sausages.
Come Saturday morning, the Team Sahlen racers were lined up at the sharp end of the grid. From the drop of the green flag, Joe Sahlen headed straight to the front of the pack in Ketchup. Unfortunately, an exhaust leak sent the rotary racer back to the pits for repairs. The good news was that Team Sahlen still had 2 dogs in the hunt for the remainder of the 7 hour event. As the race wore on, Charcoal ran flawlessly, turning consistent lap times vs the competition, without putting a wheel wrong. This pace by Joseph and Jacob saw a strong run to the end to secure a very impressive 15th place out of the century sized field.
Joseph Sahlen shared his thoughts for the day - “I really enjoyed the race today, it a lot of fun. This is my 2nd Chumpcar race. And I enjoyed this one even more than my 1st race. Charcoal is a blast to drive. 7 hours a lot for 2 drivers, but Jacob and I just kept switching out all day, and here we are solidly in the Top 20 at end.”
With the mechanical issues with Ketchup, Joe Sahlen rotated over to join Joe & Wayne Nonnamaker in the Mustard entry line up. The pace of Mustard was strong, with a fastest race lap that was good for 4th best on the day. Along with limited time in the pits, and no off track excursions, the Mustard entry secured a fine 7th place finish.
As a side note to the end of Saturday’s race, the Team Sahlen crew had worked persistently in the garage to fix Ketchup. In the last hour of the race, the red racer was finally repaired, and Will Nonnamaker was able to take out the RX7 for a few shake down laps in preparation for Sunday’s race. After a couple of turns around the track, Will radioed in that all was well with the car. Will’s feelings were soon confirmed on the timing sheets, as Ketchup was able to post the 5th fastest race lap of the day.
Come Sunday morning, Team Sahlen again had the RX7s gridded at the front of the pack. The early 1st hour of the race saw Ketchup and Mustard running in the top 5 of the field. Unfortunately, an incident in traffic saw Mustard impacting the infamous blue Armco of Watkins Glen International. This ended the day for Mustard. But Ketchup had a lot of pent up energy after having sat in the garage all day Saturday, and soon took the charge to the front of the field. Throughout the entire 1st 6 hours of the event, Ketchup ran in the top 3 of the race. Then in the last hour, the team worked to play out a unique fuel strategy to go for the victory. The plan worked very well, with Ketchup setting 4th fastest lap of the race, and gaining a ½ lap lead,. Then with only 2 laps to go, the strategy went array, as the rotary rocket ran out of fuel.
Will Nonnamaker shared his thoughts on the day - “To say the end of the race was heart breaking would be an understatement. We have been working and working for 5 years to secure the top step at a Chumpcar race, and it looked like today was going to be the day. And to have that victory be at our own Sahlen’s Chumpyard DOG at the Glen made it even more sweet. But as we all know, racing can deal you a cruel punch in the stomach, and today was one of those days.”
The Chumpcar Officials agreed with the cruel fate of the Ketchup racer by awarding Team Sahlen the “Tough Break” award.
Jacob and Joseph ran another very strong race on Sunday. And again the duo were in the top 20 in the race, heading into the last hour. Disappointingly, an alternator wire broke, sending Charcoal back to the pits for a dnf on the day.
The next event for Team Sahlen will be the World Racing League event at Gingerman Raceway on July 29-31.
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,