By Team Sahlen
Team Sahlen secures 2nd Place after wild last 2 laps of Road America ROLEX race
A beautiful sunshiny day in Wisconsin was the setting for an epic ROLEX GT race. And for Team Sahlen, starting on the Pole Position was a perfect start to the event. Wayne Nonnamaker had placed the #43 Mazda RX-8 at the top of the grid with a record breaking lap.
The team has worked very hard this year and really deserved this result.
Wayne settled into a comfortable pace at the early laps of the race, sitting in 4th place on the track. 10 minutes into the race, there was an epic wreck just behind Wayne, as the #07 GT had its throttle stick wide open going into Turn One. Wayne was fortunate to avoid the fast closing GT car under braking. But the #40 Mazda RX-8 of Joe Foster was not so fortunate, and was collected in the wreck. This incident caused a prolonged yellow that put many teams guessing what would be the best strategy to take once the race went back green.
Team Sahlen choose top off the #42 and change drivers, replacing Wayne Nonnamaker with John Edwards behind the wheel once past the 30 minute mandatory minimum driver time in car limit. During the stop, new Continental Tires were added, along with a full load of fuel. When the race resumed at the midpoint of the race, there was only 1 hour to go. Thus all GT teams were faced with a situation of pitting and making a choice of either adding tires or not. Team Sahlen choose to pit and only add the necessary fuel to get to the end of the race. This strategy seemed to be backfiring, as many of the other GT competitors were trying to stretch their fuel to the end of the race. But one by one, the GT competitors pitted, except for 3 in front of the #42. Then on the last lap, the lead #88 ran out of fuel. And then in turn 13 of 15, the #67 ran out of fuel. The #31 almost hit the #67, but avoided an incident to sprint to the checkered flag. This placed Team Sahlen in 2nd place!
Lead Engineer Catherine Crawford Wallace was interviewed for the 2ndstraight race by the SPEED TV crew. After the race she had further comments on the outcome of the race and the full weekend – “We went in to Road America worried about the long straights with our power deficit but concentrated on what we could control. The car was pretty quick off the truck and with a few adjustments we captured our first pole. To follow that up with second place was an amazing feeling! The team has worked very hard this year and really deserved this result. The race was not only wonderful for us but so exciting to watch!"
John Edwards enthused – “Wow, what a weekend! Wayne put the #42 Mazda on pole and we walked away with a hard-fought 2nd place finish. The Team Sahlen crew did a great job through the weekend to tweak the setup and give Wayne and I a very fast car, then made the right strategy call to pit for fuel to guarantee that we would make it to the end, while a few other cars risked it and ran out of fuel ahead of us. During the beginning of my stint, I thought I would be able to get by the #31 car as I felt quicker, but unfortunately he was fast coming off the corner, which didn't let me get close enough to get by. Still, this was a great result and I had a great time working with Team Sahlen.”
“John drove a fantastic race. He drove a steady, consistent pace, staying out of trouble, while others spun or were involved in incidents. In fact his pace was steady enough to secure Fastest Lap of the race for GT. I am so happy for the crew. We have ask them to make a lot of sacrifices and they have had to endure through several heartbreaks to get to this point.” – shared Team Manager Jay Chapman
Although overshadowed by the exploits of the #42, Team Sahlen’s #43 and #49 RX-8s had very solid runs as well. The #43 was started by Joe Nonnamaker. After getting out of the #42 Mazda, Wayne Nonnamaker jumped in the #43 and made it into the Top 5 in the race during the middle stages of the race. In the end, Wayne battled to a well deserved 9th place at the end of the race. This was the best finish to date for the car. The #49 entry was entered to gain test and tune time. Will Nonnamaker drove a solid race, even reaching the Top 5 at one point. Comprised pit strategy saw the Western New York Flash sponsored entry settle for 14th in GT at the end.
“The only downside to the whole day was the humongous wreck that occurred in the 1st 10 minutes of the race when the #07 GT car had its throttle stick, crashing into the #40 RX-8 driven by Joe Foster. Despite being flown to a Milwaukee Hospital, we understand that Joe was able to fly home the next day to Atlanta. This was good news indeed and everyone at Team Sahlen wishes Joe a speedy recovery.” – shared Will Nonnamaker