Posted (05/10/2014) -
Team Sahlen had an excellent weekend ruined by a freak pit lane situation that was impossible to have avoided. It all started at the 39 minute mark in the race, when a full course caution came out. The rules state that a driver must be in the car for 45 minutes. Thus when the pits opened the 1st time around under caution for the GS class cars, nobody pitted. Then the next lap, for the ST cars, very few cars pitted. This was especially true for those running up front, as they were still under the 45 minute mark. Many in the middle to back of the ST grid were able to pit as they had crossed the 45 minute barrier before reaching pit in. On the 3 lap under caution, when all the classes could pit, the GS class team that Team Sahlen was sharing their stalls with pitted. Thus Team Sahlen could not pit their cars. This forced a later in the race green flag pit stop, sliding both #42 and #43 back to 20th and 26th in the GS class.
Team Manager Jay Chapman shared his feelings - “It was a very unfortunate set of circumstances. With us sitting in 7th place, and the pace Wayne had, I know for sure we would have finished in the Top 5. The way it was, we scrambled hard to get back valuable championship points, by scrapping out a 10th place finish. These things happen in racing. It just means we have to work that much harder for strong results as we hit the heart of the season coming up this summer.”
And the weekend started off so well, with Test Day on Thursday seeing the team make several set up changes that increase both the speed and drivability of the Sahlen racers. Then came practice, where the Team Sahlen racers placed in 6th in session 1 and 9th in session 2. This led to a fine 9th place in qualifying for Will Nonnamaker. Joe Nonnamaker made steady progress all weekend, setting his fastest time of the weekend in qualifying when it mattered most. At the start of the race, Will Nonnamaker did a fine job managing traffic, moving up to 7th place before the 1st caution 2 laps into the race. After the unfortunate traffic jam under the 2nd yellow flag caution, Will & Joe Nonnamaker scrambled hard to make up time out on track before their pit stop. This saw Will & Joe rise all the way up to 2nd and 10th in the ST class.
Will Nonnamaker shared his experiences in Qualifying - “I was able to pull that time out on the very last lap of the session. Up until then I was in something like 14th slot. It’s amazing, 4th through 15th were separated by less than a second in ST. It is all very close, and you have to be spot on to have a good placement on the grid in these races.”
Once the inevitable pit stop occurred, Wayne Nonnamaker took over for Will, who took a short breather before finishing the race for Joe in the #43. The Brothers Nonnamaker had their hands full, restarting in 20th and 26th slots. Several full course cautions in the last hour of the race made it hard to make much headway through the pack. Yet, both brothers managers to make progress. Wayne making it up to 10th, only 1 car length from 8th place. Will progressed up to 18th, only inches from 17th position.
Wayne Nonnamaker added his thoughts on the race – “It’s always hard making up so much ground in such a short amount of time. Everyone is fighting for what they have on track, and they are not just going to pull over and let you go by. We salvaged what we could from the race, and now it’s time to move onto Lime Rock Park.
The team now has a 2 ½ week break before they return to action at Lime Rock Park. The race will at 9:10 am on May 23rd. With race will be an ST class only event. And with 31 cars on the short road course, the action should be action packed.
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