Team Sahlen, presented by honeybeeBase.com, entered the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series at Pittsburgh International Race Complex to compete in the MoneyShiftRacing dual enduros. This was to include an 8 hour race on Saturday and a 7 hour enduro on Sunday.
For this event, Team Sahlen would be entering their #942 “Ketchup” & #943 ECS Tuning Porsche Boxsters. The drivers for the weekend would be Joe Sahlen and Will Nonnamaker. The team would be focused on defending their Overall Victory that they had secured at Pittsburgh with ChampCar in the previous season.
There was a full Test&Tune on Friday that allowed the team to shake down the Boxsters. The Test went very well for “Ketchup”, getting up to speed very well. “Mustard” had mechanical complications that could eventually not be resolved. The team made the decision to park “Mustard” and bring #945 “Salt” ECS Tuning Porsche Cayman off the bench to run in the event. The crew executed this maneuver and had “Salt” out on the track before the end of the test session.
For Saturday, the team drew a starting slot of 61st and 62nd out of 67 entries. This made for a very crowded start of the race for starting drivers Joe Sahlen & Joe Nonnamaker. To make things even more precarious, the remnants of Hurricane Ian was passing through the Western Pennsylvania area. This meant an ever increasing amount of rain throughout the day. Both drivers took their time working through the traffic. At the 3 hour mark, Team Sahlen had risen up to 1st and 2nd OVERALL, and 1st in C and EC Class. As the rain poured on, a transmission issue cropped up with “Ketchup” that saw the team choose to repair for Sunday, vs rolling along with 2 gears for the remainder of the day. “Salt” continued on into the deluge of rainstorm. After a red flag all at the 5 hour mark, Team Sahlen made the wise decision to part “Salt” due to the very, very difficult conditions. 30 minutes later of racing, and the race itself was ended early due to the continued rain and eventual flooding of the track.
Sunday dawned a completely new day, with sunny blue skies and highs in the 60s. Team Sahlen had the good fortune of starting in 2nd and 3rd on Sunday. And starting drivers Joe Sahlen and Joe Nonnamaker wasted no time in going to the front of the field in the early stages of the race. As the race rolled along, Team Sahlen had stiff competition all day. “Salt” battled hard with several strong EC Class racers. And “Ketchup” fought all day long in the Top 5 OVERALL.
The last 4 hours of the race were run with only 1 Yellow Flag. This meant that every lap on track was super important in final finishing result. Joe Sahlen put in a masterful drive from hour 3 to 5, sitting on the leader’s tail the entire stint. An excellent pit stop by the crew saw the team retain their positions at hour 5. Finishing drivers Wayne & Will Nonnamaker buckled in for the final 2 hours of the race, with a focus on both wining their races as well as stretching their fuel to make it such a long distance on a single tank. In the end, the team crossed the line side by side, victorious in both OVERALL Victory as well as Class EC and C wins. To top off the weekend, Wayne Nonnamaker secured the fastest race lap in the EC class for both Saturday and Sunday.
Will Nonnamaker shared his thoughts after the race – “Joe Sahlen drove an amazing race. His second stint was just awesome. He hounded the 1st Place Porsche 944 for over 100 minutes straight. This placed us in excellent position as I got in to finish the race with 2 hours remaining. We were able to eek out a slight 30 second lead that we held to the end of the race, working hard to conserve fuel.”
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