Team Sahlen, presented by honeybeeBase.com, returned to Watkins Glen International, after having just raced at the track a few weeks earlier in the Sahlen’s Sports Car Springfest at the Glen with the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series. In this previous event, Team Sahlen had secured the double OVERALL victory in the Saturday & Sunday 8 hour Enduro events. With this high mark, Team Sahlen knew they had their work cut out for them to duplicate such a mark. Coming fully prepared, Team Sahlen brought their trusty #941 “Charcoal” Mazda RX7 as well as the #942 “Ketchup” and #943 “Mustard” Porsche Boxsters.
Friday was set to be Technical Inspection in the Morning and Open Practice in the afternoon. Mother Nature had different ideas, and the entire afternoon was called off due to severe fog during what became a torrential rainstorm. Visibility was so bad, that the crew could not see the grandstands on the front straight from pit road.
Saturday arrived with continued rain,,but with no fog, which allowed the race to start at 9 am. With temperatures in the mid 50s and a very wet track, and 85 race cars on track, the Team Sahlen racers did their best to tip toe around the circuit in the early laps of the race, working to get heat into their 200w rated tires.
As the race rolled into the 2nd and 3rd hours, Team Sahlen positioned into the Top 5 slots on track, working to take advantage of full course cautions to gain track position.
Running strong all day in the top 20, the #941 “Charcoal” had the misfortune at the 6 hour mark to have the alternator expire, ending a strong run for the day.
With 45 Minutes to go, the #942 “Ketchup” was in 1st place, a lap up on the field. The #943 “Mustard” was in 3rd place, right behind the Tuttle Mitsubishi. A full on race to the checkered flag saw “Mustard” sneak by the Tuttle racer, to ensure at Team Sahlen 1st & 2nd Place OVERALL for the Saturday 7 hour event.
Joe Sahlen shared his thoughts on the day – “What an amazing day of racing. We battled all race long to stay in the Top 5, Then in the last 1/3rd of the race, we just seemed to distance ourselves from the pack as our competitors found misfortune. To have won OVERALL in 2 different Endurance series event here this spring at the Glen is incredible.”
Sunday dawned with a damp but drying track, and temperatures a bit warmer than Saturday. These conditions meant the race pace would be considerably faster than the day before. The Team Sahlen racers were up to the challenge, and continued to strike hard every lap to stay in the Top 5. Leading at the halfway point in the race, the #943 “Mustard” was poised to contend for the overall victory. As the race neared the final hours, a green flag pit stop put the Porsche Boxster in a position of fighting to stay on the lead lap. At the Checkered Flag, “Mustard” did stay on the lead lap, securing 2nd OVERALL. The #942 “Ketchup” received the standard 1 lap Victor’s Penalty for winning the Saturday race. Despite this slight handicap, “Ketchup” was able to secure 3rd Place OVERALL, just one lap down to the leader. The #941 “Charcoal” had a redemptive day, running all 7 hours and crossing the line in 21st position, beating out 64 other competitors.
Joseph Sahlen shared his thoughts after the race – “What a fun race this was today. Old Charcoal ran like a dream all day. You could drive this RX7 anywhere on track, and it just handled great everytime.”
The next event for Team Sahlen will be the July 17th – 18th Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series event at Nelson Ledges Road Course. The event will include an 8 hour enduro on Saturday, to be followed up with a 7 hour enduro on Sunday.
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