Posted (08/29/2005) -
As the season is winding down we headed to Mid Ohio for our hometown race. This year was special as over 100 of our family and friends attended the race on Sunday. Once the race was over we enjoyed Sahlen's Hot Dogs and Italian Sausages. While the party was on Sunday, our work started on Thursday as we tested our stable of cars around the Ohio track.
This season we have had several test days around the Mid Ohio circuit with our Porsche GT3 Cups that compete in Rolex as well as our Porsche 996s that compete in the Grand Am Cup. We already had strong set ups for those cars at this track. We took the test day to continue development on our Dodge SRT-4. We took delivery of the car prior to the Trois Rivieres event and have since been developing the setup on the car to suit our driving style. We made some major strides with the car at Mid Ohio and have some great ideas to try for the car in the coming weeks.
Wes Allen rejoined our Team Sahlen effort at Mid Ohio driving the #43 Porsche GT3 Cup with Will Nonnamaker in the Grand Am Rolex GT class. Wes drove with our team at the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona finishing ninth. Over test days and practice Wes continued to readapt to the high horsepower GT3 Cup and his times continued to drop every session.
On Friday we took the #40 Team Sahlen Porsche 996 out for the first time. This is the car that Joe (Will and I's father) and I would be sharing for Sunday's race. The car was immediately fast and we were in the top ten right out of the trailer. We have been working hard on developing the Porsche and some recent weight adjustments by Grand Am in the Porsches favor helped the Porsches to be towards the front.
Traditionally the Rolex series races on Sunday while the Grand Am Cup series races on Saturday. At Mid Ohio the Rolex Series has become a traditional Saturday show. The race started at 5:30 PM and with only one car running in the race our crew wasn't as busy as they normally would be. While some of the crew stayed behind to prep the Grand Am Cup cars for the Sunday race, the crew prepared for the race. Joe and I, who are used to driving normally, were a part of watching the race from the pits, an unusual perspective for us. Joe volunteered to be the fire bottle person while I volunteered to help Will into the car after Wes finished his starting driving stint.
Wes Allen started the race and did a very strong job. His times in the race were faster than his qualifying times, which is a strong sign. There were several cautions at the beginning of the race that slowed the action. Wes was struggling with a lack of front grip. Part of the problem seemed to be that there weren't enough consecutive green flag laps to build temperature in the front tires. Wes made a sway bar adjustment and after a few laps of green flag racing the car's grip came back to what Wes was used to out of the Team Sahlen Porsche.
Will got in the car and was running to the end of the race when contact on track knocked our rear bumper loose. We hoped that it would break free from the car while on track but unfortunately it didn't and the officials forced us to come in and remove the bumper. When Will returned to the track he ran strong laps but when the next yellow came out we just lost a lap to the GT cars.
We ended the race in eighth place. A strong result since there were twenty three GT cars that started the race. Wes did a great job in his second race with our team. Will scored strong points towards the Bob Akin award, the award that goes to the top gentleman driver in the Rolex GT Class. Will now holds a 90 point lead over Marc Bunting with only four races remaining.
On Sunday we ran the Grand Am Cup race in front of over a hundred of our family and friends. After our strong run in practice, Joe qualified the car seventh. Joe started the race in the #40 Team Sahlen Porsche 996. The start was an eventful one as he remained in the top seven but got hit by the #55 For