Posted (09/05/2016) -
Team Sahlen entered the recent ChumpCar “Cookie Cutter Classic” event at Gingerman Raceway with recent winning knowledge of the track. Just 4 weeks prior, Team Sahlen had raced at Gingerman Raceway with the World Racing League. At this event, Team Sahlen had entered their ChumpCar series Mazda RX7 “Ketchup” and “Mustard” racers. During this World Racing League event, Team Sahlen was able to secure a 1st & 2nd Overall during the 8 hour event. Beyond the thrill of overall victory, the World Racing League event proved to be very beneficial to the team, as the drivers learned a brand new track. Additionally, the crew learned a lot of valuable information on set up, Tire wear rates, as well as development parts trialed. During this World Racing League event, Team Sahlen was able to secure a 1st & 2nd Overall during the 8 hour event. All of this experience led to Team Sahlen being very prepared for the ChumpCar event held at Gingerman Raceway a few weeks later.
For the Friday practice day, Team Sahlen was able to maximize the plentiful track time to sort through the ensuring both Ketchup and Mustard were running up to peak form. The 3rd Mazda RX-7, Charcoal, provided the drivers with excellent extra practice time for the day.
Come Saturday Morning, and all the ChumpCar racers were faced with a torrential downpour with lightning and thunder thrown in for good measure. The Team Sahlen racers did their best to weather the storm, and survive to clear skies and dry track. Of the 7 hour race, only the last 3 hours were completely dry on the track. This didn’t prevent Team Sahlen from challenging for the victory. With 1 hour to go in the race, Mustard was in the lead of the race. Then with 25 minutes to go, running only 10 seconds out of the lead of the race, a fuel starvation issue forced the team to the pits for a splash of fuel. With the mandatory 5 minute stop for Fuel in ChumpCar, this bumped the Mustard entry back to 4th place. The red Ketchup entry secured a finish just outside the top 10, in 11th place, after a series of unfortunate incidents during the day’s racing.
Will Nonnamaker shared his thoughts at the end of the day - “Oh to be so close at the finish with victory within our grasp. And then have a fuel starvation issue deny the team the opportunity to secure our 1st ChumpCar victory,,,it is the bitter pill of racing that we all must face when racing in competition. The crew did a great job preparing the cars today, and thank them for their efforts to give us a fighting chance for victory.”
The Sunday 7 hour race dawned with clear skies and great anticipation by the Team Sahlen crew. After having led the last 2 ChumpCar races in the last hour, the team was focused to secure the Team Sahlen’s 1st ever ChumpCar victory. The 1st 2 hours of the event, Ketchup and Mustard circled the track in 2nd and 3rd place, in hot pursuit of the #991 entry, that was turning some of the fastest race laps of the entire weekend. As the race entered the 3rd hour, Team Sahlen continued their persistent pace. And when the #991 entry ran into some pit stop obstacles, both Ketchup and Mustard moved up in the order and assumed 1st and 2nd in the race. As the 2nd half of the 7 hour race proceeded, the Ketchup entry continued its consistently fast pace lap after lap. As the race neared its conclusion, Ketchup a lead of a few laps, and was able secure the victory at the Checkered Flag.
Joe Sahlen, whom shared the winning Ketchup entry with Wayne & Will Nonnamaker, shared his thoughts - “What a great day of racing. I really enjoy racing in ChumpCar. This was a very competitive field of race cars today, and for Team Sahlen to be able to secure our 1st victory is just fantastic.”
Ironically, Joe Sahlen did not able to enjoy watching Ketchup win the race, as he was driving the Mustard entry during the last hour of the race. In that hour of intense driving, Joe was able to move Mustard up from 5th to 4th at the end of the race. This finish was 2nd straight day that Mustard secured a 4th place finish
Team Sahlen’s next race will be October 1st and 2nd with ChumpCar at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. At last year’s ChumpCar 18 hour race at Pittsburgh, Team Sahlen was able to secure a 5th, 9th and 13th place finish out of 51 entries. For this year, there will be 7 hour races on both Saturday and Sunday. The entry list for this year’s race will be just as strong with almost 50 entries again. Team Sahlen will be entering both their “Ketchup” and “Mustard” Mazda RX7 entries in hopes of repeating the success at Gingerman Raceway.
2016 Team Sahlen Campaign Partners:
eEuroparts.com, 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.