Posted (10/29/2015) -
The 7th and final 2015 race weekend for Team Sahlen would be at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the American Endurance Racing Series.
For this event, Team Sahlen would be entering their Porsche Caymans. Drivers would be Joe Sahlen & Will Nonnamaker in the #41 racer. The father/son duo of Joe & Wayne Nonnamaker would be in the #43 racer car.
Practice and Qualifying were held on Friday before the event. Team Sahlen was still in the process of learning the 200 wear rating tires for the Caymans. The team did have experience with these type of tires with their Mazda RX-7s, but those cars weigh 500 lbs less and have significantly less horsepower. The entire morning session was spent working on set up. Different springs were tried. Then swaybar setting we altered to get the right mixture. Then finally, the shocks were tuned. This all led to a very well balanced and stable car to drive.
The afternoon saw the start of Qualifying. Team Sahlen set up fine tuning from the morning resulted in the team netting 1st and 2nd on the grid.
Come Saturday morning, the track was damp and wet. The team had the option of starting on shaved tires or rains. The decision was made to start on the shaved tires. Unfortunately, this was the absolutely wrong decision. The extra wide 255 tires on the Caymans were like steering a boat without a rudder. Will Nonnamaker spun on the pace laps, and Joe Nonnamaker did the same on the opening lap. For the 1st 3 hours of the race, the Sahlen’s drivers did their best to keep the cars on the track. When the track finally dried out at hour 3, the Porsche Caymans came to life on the track. Soon Team Sahlen was setting a scorching pace, that saw both the #41 & #43 on the top of the charts.
At the 5 hour mark, the #43 was leading the race when the drive shaft broke. The crew quickly repaired the Cayman, but this put the racer well out of reach of winning the race.
This now meant that the honor of the team of securing victory was solely upon #41. Will Nonnamaker drove penultimate stint, and then handed over to closer Wayne Nonnamaker to finish the job. Late in the last hour of the race, Team Sahlen made a strategic move to make their last pit stop under Yellow flag conditions. This saw the #41 go from 50 seconds down to 11 seconds down. Then as the race went back green, Wayne weaved his way through traffic, to take the fight the #626 “Honey Badger” BMW. As the race reached the 8.5 hour mark, Wayne crossed the line in 1st place, 5 seconds in the lead.
“What a fantastic race. That was a lot of fun. The #626 raced me clean the entire time at the end of the race. Eight and half hours of racing and the win came down to less than 5 seconds, it doesn’t get any better than this.” – shared Wayne Nonnamaker
Come Sunday’s race, the starting lineup was switched to Joe Sahlen behind the wheel of the #41 and Wayne Nonnamaker in the seat of #43. The results of Saturday’s race determined the grid for Sunday’s event. Therefore Sahlen’s racers lined up 1st and 3rd. After a few laps in the beginning to get heat into the tires, the Team Sahlen racers took off and maintained 1st and 2nd place on the charts in the early stages of the race. Similar to Saturday’s race, the #43 charged into the lead. This time the car was let down by a wheel brake sensor going bad, putting the car into the sand trap.
The #41 racer continued its form from Saturday and didn’t put one wheel off the track all day. This included no unscheduled pit stops, nor any stops that were over the mandated 3 minute minimum. This pace by Joe Sahlen and Will Nonnamaker saw them repeat their overall victory from Saturday. The victory on Saturday and Sunday also saw Team Sahlen crowned as weekend victor as well.
“We really enjoyed racing with American Endurance Racing. I have to tip my hat to the whole group over at the #626 “Honey Badger” BMW team. They ran 2 perfect races each day, and really made us work for our victories. And overall for the weekend, there were 48 race cars out here, we raced for 17 hours and we don’t have a scratch on either car. That is a real testament to some very clean drivers out there. I know that Team Sahlen will certainly be back in 2016 with American Endurance Racing.” – shared Will Nonnamaker
2015 Team Sahlen Campaign Partners:
Tarett Engineering, Guard Transmission, Forgeline, Porsche of Beachwood, Pittsburgh International Race Complex, HubstandsPRO, MSI Racing Products, Brothers Grimm Landscaping, NGK Spark Plugs, CM Racing Products, Mothers Polishes, Grassroots Motorsports Magazine, Maxima Oil, CV Products, Design Engineering Inc., Hella, Hard Brakes, Penske Shocks, Alcon Rotors, Lamin-X, Optima Batteries and TheRaceSite.com.