Posted (10/07/2016) -
Team Sahlen experienced all the emotions you can expect to have on a race weekend at the recent ChumpCar event at Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex. The Saturday 7 hour endurance event started off with a very damp track. This meant that all competitors tip toed around the track for the 1st hour of the event. Once the track dried out, both the Ketchup and the Mustard entry started laying down some solid lap times. This led to Mustard swapping the lead in the early portions of the race with two other competitors. The Ketchup entry was allotted a 3 lap handicap due to victory at the recent ChumpCar event at Gingerman. This handicap though was soon overcome, and at the 4 hour mark had risen up to 4th overall. At the 5 hour mark, Mustard started suffering from gearbox problems. This eventually led to Mustard having to pit out of the lead of the race and exit to the garage for repairs. Ketchup continued forward and moved up to 3rd place. As the race drew to a close, a short shower saw many competitors scrambling to stay on the track. With every lap the drew nearer to the conclusion, Ketchup drew closer to the 2nd place car. Unfortunately, despite closing the cap from a 2 minutes to 30 seconds, time ran out on the race, and Ketchup crossed the line in 3rd place.
After Saturday’s race, the dedicated Team Sahlen crew worked to replace Mustard’s Transmission. And additionally to prep both entries for Sunday’s 7 hour endurance event. Manager Tim Weyer shared his thoughts on the day – “It was certainly a letdown to have the transmission go out on Mustard. But the crew just kept their heads up and went right to work on replacing it back in the garage. I was really nice to see Ketchup come home with a 3rd place finish despite the 3 lap handicap. I think without that handicap, it might have just won.”
Sunday’s race saw a dry track for all competitors. Ketchup and Mustard took advantage of these clear skies to lay down some very nice laps early on. Mustard bounced back from transmission woes to lead the race early on. Ketchup was still facing a 3 lap handicap deficit due to the Gingerman victory. Despite this handicap, again Ketchup rose up to 4th overall by the 3 hour mark. As the race went past the 5 hour mark, the exhaust on Mustard started to come apart. Although Rotary racers are known for being hard on exhaust systems, this knowledge was of small consolation to Team Sahlen. The crew worked feverously at every pit stop to try and bandage up the situation. But to no avail, the eventual black flag for an extended repair resulted. This plummeted Mustard from 1st to 3rd in the final 10 minutes of the race. To add additional strife to the situation, Ketchup had risen up to 4th place and then had the alternator wire burn out in the last 10 minutes.
Wayne Nonnamaker summed up the end of the day – “We had a lot of fun this weekend. Of course we would have loved to have won on both days, but racing never goes as you planned it. The crew deserves a round of applause for the dual 3rd place finishes. They have worked so hard to develop the RX7s into race winners. I can’t wait for next year to come back to ChumpCar and race again for victory.”
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.