SCC: Fontana: Nonnamaker Racing diary

Nonnamaker Racing Diary: California 2003 We weren't sure what to expect from California Speedway as it didn't treat us too well in 2002. However it produced a Sports Touring II win for the Racing campaign. In 2002 the California...

Nonnamaker Racing Diary: California 2003

We weren't sure what to expect from California Speedway as it didn't treat us too well in 2002. However it produced a Sports Touring II win for the Racing campaign.

In 2002 the California Speedway was the place where Kris, Will and I's mom, broke her arm in the paddock. Thankfully this year she made it through the weekend unharmed.

The California weekend had no test day so we had to get up and running on track with only official practice. In the Acura end of our team we were running three cars so we could try some different set up ideas. Will and Howie jumped from car to car to test different spring packages. We found a small change on the rear that seemed to help and we made the movement on all the cars to match that package on all three cars.

When we went to Homestead earlier in the year we struggled with a push in the banking. At Phoenix we made a change that seemed to help, but we weren't sure how the car would react at California with its 140 mph banking. During testing we got comfortable on the high speed banking and we seemed to be as fast as any of the GSII cars through the banking.

When qualifying came around we sent out three Acuras out in a pack to benefit from the draft. Howie Liebengood benefited from a strong draft from both Belinda and Ray and secured second place on the grid behind the more powerful Chevrolet Cavalier. Howie is adapting to these Acura Integras very well as his qualifying efforts in the past two events have proven. The Cavalier seems to do real well every time we get to a high speed oval and it did so again in qualifying at California.

In Grand Sports the qualifying session was cut short due to a GSI car clobbering the tire wall on two consecutive laps. The shortened session jumbled the grid quite a bit and we ended up seventh in class.

The race itself went very well for us in Sports Touring II. Howie started the car for Will. When Will got in the 27 car was turning some very strong lap times. However our pit strategy and our fast pit crew allowed us to win the race. Will did an excellent job of running very quick laps times. When a problem cropped up in the rear of the car, apparently something was locking up in the rear wheels, Will was able to adapt to it and drive around it to take the win.

Belinda started our #42 Integra and she did a very great job in her first time with the team. She seemed to fit in quite well with the entire crew and team. She turned the car over to Ray Bailey, who was in his second race with the team. Ray stayed even with second place but couldn't quite run them down. In addition to finishing the #42, Ray also started the #44 Integra in case something happened to the #42. Ray did a very good job of double stinting and we hope to see Ray back with the team at Watkins Glen.

As for the GSII class, we had our problems. Contact in the middle of the race caused the radiator to break. Porsche has engineered an amazingly reliable car, but whenever you have contact with the front corner of the car you run a very high risk of breaking a radiator. Joe brought the car in and the crew did an amazing job of changing the radiator in thirty minutes. We went back out and the car cooled back down enough we could run it the rest of the race to score eleventh place points.

While the GSII race didn't go so hot we still came out of the weekend with the Drivers and Team points lead. With six races remaining we still have a strong shot at this title.

Sunday brought with it the chance to run in the Rolex Series race. We ran both our #41 Porsche (that ran in the Cup race) and our #40 Porsche (that we used as a test car this weekend) in the race. I started the #41 Porsche and after about 90 minutes we parked it due to overheating. The car still has some issues from the overheating we suffered the day before. We didn't want to blow a motor up during the race and cause a yellow so we decided just to park the car.

The #40 was started by Joe. After about an hour he got out and we put Will in the car. Will got up to speed quite well for his limited experience in the Porsche so far this season. By the end of the race we ended up fourth in GT and eleventh overall. In addition we were able to beat all the GS cars that joined in for the Rolex Series race.

We now have one whole weekend off before heading to Watkins Glen. While we are hoping for a good finish, no Nonnamaker has ever won at the Glen. Maybe this year our luck will turn.

-by Wayne Nonnamaker

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Wayne Nonnamaker , Ray Bailey , Howie Liebengood