Team Sahlen, presented by honeybeeBase.com, entered the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on a high after securing 4 OVERALL Victories in a row over the past 2 months This was a result of securing 1st Place in both the Saturday and Sunday Enduros with the ChampCar Endurance Series at both Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course & Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
Friday was a morning Practice Session, and the afternoon being a Qualifying Session. Team Sahlen utilized the morning track time to not only get some early laps in the #43 “Retro” Audi R8 and #42 “Pepper” Porsche Cayman, but to also shake down the #41 “Salt” Porsche Cayman and #943 “Mustard” Porsche Boxster. Although the track was damp and cold, the session time was good to ensure all was working well. The afternoon was a time to lay down some fast laps. And to start of the times, the #42 “Pepper” rolled out and secured 4th in the Class 4 grid. Not to be out done, the #43 “Retro” made a bold statement for the weekend, securing the OVERALL and Class 5 Pole Position, setting a new American Endurance Racing track record in the process.
Saturday morning saw a very, very cold and wet track. This made for some tricky driving conditions. Many cars spun even on the pace laps, including the #42 “Pepper”. Even as the green flag fell, cars found it even difficult to try and tip toe around the twisty Midwest track. The conditions continued through the 1st 3 hours of the race. As Noon time arrived, the track had finally started to dry. At this point, the Team Sahlen Audi started to move to the front of the pack. This continued until an unfortunate gearbox glitch put the R8 in permanent 5th Gear Mode. A momentous drive by Wayne Nonnamaker over the last stint saw “Retro” rise back to challenge for the OVERALL victory. The dog fight with the VAC BMW lasted lap after lap. Then at the checkered, “Retro” crossed the line 1st with just a .08 Margin of Victory. Along with the victory, Wayne Nonnamaker surpassed the 4000 Lap mark in the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series.
Wayne Nonnamaker shared his thoughts – “What a challenging race. Keeping up the momentum was the key to keeping the Audi turning quick laps to contest for the victory. This was relatively easy with clear track, but this is endurance racing with multi classes on the track at the same time. And in traffic is where I had the most challenge to keep the R8 rolling along. And then to win by .08 seconds is just amazing.”
With the transmission issue, Team Sahlen made the decision to switch the #43 “Retro” Audi R8 for the #41 “Salt” Porsche Cayman. The main issue for Team Sahlen was broken pulley on the motor on the #42 “Pepper” Porsche. The crew dug in deep and switched the motor with the spare. This work was finally completed at 2 am. The Sunday 8 hour race started in the dry. Team Sahlen methodically worked through traffic, and at the 3 hour mark, the team was in 1st Place in both Class 5 and Class 3. Then the expected rains came, and changed the whole complexion of the race. The track became nearly impossible to navigate. Survival became the essence of the day. For the remaining 5 hours of the race, Team Sahlen focused hard to manage the conditions and secure a strong finish for the day. As the race came to a close, amazingly, the #42 “Pepper” Porsche secured 1st OVERALL and 1st in Class 5. And the #41 “Salt” Porsche survived to secure a solid 7th OVERALL and 3rd in Class 3.
Will Nonnamaker shared his thoughts – “That was some very treacherous conditions. There was absolutely no grip on the track. Then the defroster on “Salt” started to have issues. I was able to squeegee the inside of the windshield twice a lap, but still seeing the track was near impossible. I was never more happy for a race to end than today’s race.”
For the weekend, Wayne Nonnamaker was able to secure the Top Driver in Points Scored. His total of 400 points was the most all time by a driver over a weekend in the Summit Racing – American Endurance Racing series. This giant point total moved Wayne all the way up to 5th in the season Driver Championship.
The next event for Team Sahlen will be the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series at Sebring International Raceway. The event will start on Friday – December 17th with open test & tune. Then Saturday and Sunday will be a 7 hour enduros starting at 9 am.
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