Team Sahlen, presented by honeybeeBase.com, entered their 1st event of the season at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series. The team had spent their 5 months off season repairing, rebuilding and developing their Sahlen racers for the 2021 season. On Friday’s Test&Tune, Practice and Qualifying session, Team Sahlen rolled out 4 racers to test out. This included the #943 “Mustard” Porsche Boxster that the team runs in the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series. The test went very well with the team learning valuable lessons for the upcoming Sahlen’s Champyard DOG at the Glen on Memorial Day weekend. Team Sahlen also brought out #42 “Pepper” Porsche Cayman out of retirement. A few teething issues were experienced during the day, and Team Sahlen choose to instead replace #42 “Pepper” with the #41 “Salt” Porsche Cayman. The star of the day was the #43 “Retro” Audi R8 GT3 Ultra setting the fastest lap of the day to secure the Pole Position for the Saturday 8 hour enduro.
Will Nonnamaker shared his thoughts – “We really had a very good day on Friday. The crew did a fantastic job working through all the opportunities that arose with the 4 Sahlen racers. We learned a lot that will helps us throughout this season.”
Saturday dawned with beautiful blue skies for the 1st event of the season for the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series. As the race got under way, both Team Sahlen racers took their time, letting the race settle in. Then once the race rolled into the 3rd hour, the timing&scoring board showed #43 “Retro” in the lead overall and in Class 5. And as well, #41 “Salt” had risen to the top of the Class 4 and 4th overall. As the race rolled into hour 4, #41 “Salt” suffered from a Clutch Slave issue that forced an early retirement for the day. #43 “Retro” continued to lead the pack overall, until a center lug nut issue forced an extended pit stop for repairs.
Wayne Nonnamaker shared his thoughts on the day – “We had a great run today. Joe Sahlen did a fantastic job starting the car, handing over the car in the lead. And from there we were running in great shape, managing traffic with smooth pit stops by the crew. It was fantastic that the crew worked hard to get us back out on track, and we were able to salvage a 2nd in Class 5 today.”
Saturday night saw showers sprinkle the race track, causing Sunday’s 8 hour enduro to start with a damp track, but with beautiful blue skies. The #43 “Retro” Audi driven by Joe Sahlen continued the pace of Saturday, and led into the early sector of the race. Wayne Nonnamaker continued forward, and the duo soon built up a 2 lap lead on the competition. With less than a hour to go, a broken right front ball joint put the victory out of reach, forcing Team Sahlen to settle for a 2nd Place in Class 5 and 8th Overall. Joe Sahlen was recognized at the awards ceremony for reaching the 2500 Lap Club in the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing Series.
Joe Sahlen shared his thoughts on reaching the milestone – “Wow, 2500 laps is a lot of racing. I have certainly enjoyed my time racing with American Endurance Racing. This a very competitive series where you can have lots and lots of fun on track. I can’t wait add to my lap total at our next event at with the series at the Sahlen’s Sports Car Springfest at the Glen in a month.”
The craziest story of the weekend was the adventure of the #41 “Salt” Porsche. Similar to Saturday, Will Nonnamaker started the race off with a double stint, rising up to 2nd in Class 4 and 5th Overall. Then at the 3 hour mark, the Clutch in the Cayman found the end of its life and ceased working. Somehow the Joe Nonnamaker was able to secure 4th gear and left it in place. This left 5 hours of racing to be completed with only 4th Gear. This included pit stops and full course cautions. Somehow, Joe & Will found their groove and started clicking of consistently expedient laps. As the race came to a conclusion, to everyone’s surprise, #41 “Salt” crossed the finish line in 3rd Place in Class 4 and 4th Place overall!
Joe Nonnamaker shared his amazement after the race – “I really didn’t have much hope in finishing the race, let alone a 4th place finish when we got stuck in 4th Gear. But we put our heads down and just drove a very methodical, patient race and there we were at the Checkered Flag with a 4th Place with only 4th Gear. Truly, this will be a race I won’t soon forget.”
The next event for Team Sahlen will be the May 8th & 9th Sahlen’s Sports Car Springfest at the Glen again with the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series.
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