The trend of being a strong Top 5 contender continued for the 4th straight race at the Watkins Glen event. This time, Team Sahlen found themselves in 4th place with only 15 minutes to go in the event. Only an unfortunate and mysterious loose wheel prevented the team from claiming a spot in the final top 5 in the GT results sheet.
From the start of practice, Team Sahlen was on the sharp end of the time sheets. In Practice Session 1, Team Sahlen was in 8th place. Then in Session 2, that improved to 7th place. And progress kept coming with a 5th place slot in P3 and 4th in P4.
The driver lineup at the event included newcomer Memo Gidley teamed with Wayne Nonnamaker in the #43 Mazda. Then in the #42 RX-8, Joe Sahlen was joined by the Father & Son duo of Joe & Will Nonnamaker. For Qualifying, Wayne placed the #43 in 8th slot and Joe Sahlen placed the #42 into 14th place on the grid.
Amazingly, a yellow did not occur in the race until the 97 minute of the race. This led to a very fast paced 1st 2/3rds of the race. In the early stages, Wayne Nonnamaker held down 6 place in the GT class. Memo Gidley took over the helm of the RX-8 at the 45 minute mark. From there Memo continued to lay down fast, consistent lap times. This saw Team Sahlen make their last pit stop and come out on the track in 4th place. At the very point the team came out on track after the pit stop, the yellow flag came out.
At that point everything went was going very well for Team Sahlen. But then on the restart, a mysterious loose left rear wheel forced Memo to the pits for a new wheel. This pushed Team Sahlen back to 8th place. “We came oh so close this weekend. Everyone on the crew put in maximum effort to get the Mazda in that position at the final 15 minutes. To see a mysterious loose wheel be the downfall is heartbreaking. But that is racing. This just gives us more reason to work harder to be in that position again in 2010.” States Wayne Nonnamaker
“Watkins Glen is the home event for Sahlen’s. We had a lot of family and friends cheering us on today. And we had a lot to cheer about today. Being in 4th place with just a short bit to go in the race was going to be exciting. I have to say that Wayne and Memo did a fantastic job today. And the crew worked hard on the pit stops. It wasn’t in the cards today, but we will keep pushing forward to get to the next level.” – stated Joe Sahlen
#42 ran a very clean and error free race from the 3 drivers in the car to finish in 12th place. “Joe, Dad and myself all agreed that we would share track time in the race. The traffic was very hectic all day. I am very proud that we avoided contact all day, and kept all four tires on the pavement. The crew did a great job on our stops, getting us in and out of the pits in a very efficient manner.” Shared Will Nonnamaker
The next event for Team Sahlen will be the season finale at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah on September 11th. SPEED TV will televise the race live 2 pm, EST.
The 2010 Team Sahlen GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 & GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Campaigns will be supported by Mazda, Mazdaspeed, HRPWorld.com, HAWK Performance, Cool Shirt, Racetech Seats, BBS, Racing Print Media, Alcon, Mothers Polish, EMCO, TheRaceSite.com, Grassroots Motorsports, Holliday Canopies, Alcon, CM Racing, Genesis Technologies, Endurance Karting, Bell Helmets, Castrol, Ianetti Design, and SpeedSource Engineering