Team Sahlen secures 5th Place in Pitt 6 Hours

Team Sahlen, presented by, entered the 3rd Annual Pittsburgh 6 Hours with the Endurance Karting Series.  In the 1st year of the event, the team entered the event with drivers Wayne, Will & Ian Nonnamaker.  This event was the 1st time in on track competition for recent High School Graduate Ian Nonnamaker.  Young Ian did a solid job in the event, finishing the race, by holding onto 7th place at the checkered by a scant few seconds.  In last year’s event, Will & Ian drove together and had a close fought event for all 6 hours.  In the end the team secured a 9th place finish, only 45 seconds out of 5th place.  In this year’s event, the driver line up would include Wayne & Will be Karting Wheel.  Additionally, for the 3rd straight year, Joe Nonnamaker would be calling race strategy.

Due projected inclement weather, the whole schedule for the Endurance Karting event was moved up.  So the driver’s meeting started bright and early at 7 am.  Then immediately after this meeting, the competitors went immediately into the Test Sessions.  Intermittent rain saw both drivers learning the rain line on the track. This was extra difficult as the Karts were all equipped with super durable slick tires, making for treacherous conditions.

As soon as the Test Sessions were complete, the event quickly transferred into full practice and qualifying sessions.  The track soon dried out, and the team found themselves setting a good pace, 3rd overall in the practice session.  In very brief 10 minute Qualifying, the team was able to find a bit of clear track on the back course with 23 other competitors to set a time good enough for 8th Overall. 

The race starts for the Endurance Karting series is LeMans style. This means that all the Karts are lined up on one side of the front straightaway, and the starting drivers are on the opposite side of the track.  Starting driver Will Nonnamaker got a very good start, coming around after the 1st lap in 7th place. 

Will Nonnamaker describes the race start – “You don’t think you are going to be nervous at the start of a race with a LeMans start, but then the start gets ready to drop the green flag, and your legs get a bit tweaky and you feel a bit nervous.  But then you hope in the Kart and get going and you are off and racing and only are focused on the Kart ahead and behind you for the next dozen laps.

In this series, there is a mandatory 15 stops, with 2 of those being 3 minute kart swaps for fuel.  This makes for strategy where it is hard to determine where exactly a team is at on track in respective position to all others. For Team Sahlen, this meant that race strategist Joe Nonnamaker had to continually just focus on what was best for the team’s #77 Kart to secure the best finish. 

In the middle portion of the race, Team Sahlen was riding comfortably in the Top 10, ranging from 6th to 9th place.  As the race started to wind down to the last hour, Team Sahlen could see a glimpse of a 5th place finish.  The drivers knew they had to hit their marks on the pit stops and to click of fast lap after fast lap. Then when all the stops were completed and it was just a race to the finish, the goal of a Top 5 became a real reality.  Will took over from Wayne, whom had just had a super quick stint.  Will focused on the task ahead, and reeled off a string of fast laps, with his final lap the fastest of any Karts last lap of the race.  The team crossed the line in 5th Place. 

Wayne Nonnamaker shared his thoughts after the race “Wow, what another fantastic event by Endurance Karting. Every time we race with this series we have a great time.  This race went full green for all 6 hours.  No Full Course Cautions, No Code 35s.  This meant that every tenth on each lap mattered.  Every second in the pits counted.  We had a zero error event, with no spins or off track excursions.  As well we had zero penalties.  All of this together amounted to a very gratifying 5th place out of 24 competitors.”

Team Sahlen’s next event will be the Tire Rack – ChampCar Endurance Series event at Nelson Ledges Road Course on July 12th – 14th.

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