The frantic one day Lime Rock Park event for the ROLEX racers started off where the Virginia race weekend concluded, with Rain!! The 1st practice session was run entirely in the rain. The early rain put Team Sahlen on their heels concerning set-up, as the team skipped the event in 2010, but many of the other GT competitors ran the race with the new track configuration.
Still coming to grips with the new track, Wayne Nonnamaker worked his best during Qualifying to place the #42 into 9th place on the grid. “I was still coming to grips with the track and our set up during Qualifying. 9th put us solidly in the Top 10. Although we would like to have been higher up, with the reality of the hand we were dealt, I think it was a decent showing setting us up for the race.” – shared Wayne Nonnamaker
The start of the race saw a spinning Daytona Prototype force all the GT cars to look for the nearest escape road. Although not all the GT competitors made it through unscathed, Wayne weaved his way through the congestion. This pile up caused an immediate yellow to the start of the race. This provided the option for Team Sahlen to bring in the #42 to the pits to top off the fuel tank. Ironically, this would be the only caution of the 2 hour and 45 minute race, with the race then continuing nonstop to the finish of the race.
Wayne continued to put in solid laps in the early stint of the race. With other GT teams on differing fuel strategy, Wayne rose as high as 4th place. Pit Stop #2 saw Wayne exit the car and Memo Gidley jump behind the wheel. Memo drove a very solid race, keeping pace with those around him in the Top 10. When it came time for the last pit stop, Wayne Nonnamaker jumped back behind the wheel. Due to the extreme heat of the day had seen, Team Sahlen choose to place Wayne back in the Mazda RX-8.
Shared owner Joe Nonnamaker “We made the call in the pits to put Wayne back in. The heat and humidity were quite extreme today. Although Memo was in fine shape when he got out of the Mazda, another hour was going to be tough. In fact, many cars up and down pit lane had to pit late in the race to remove their drivers that had double stinted, including the #99 and #90 DPs”
Wayne got in the #43 and right away had the #07 GT driven by Oliver Gavin on his tail, fighting him for position. Wayne buckled down and worked hard to put in some strong laps. This effort paid off as he as was able to gap the #07, ensuring Team Sahlen would secure 7th place in the race.
“Lime Rock was always going to be a challenge for us as a one day event. We were at a disadvantage to other teams having never raced there and the rain in the morning practice session just added to that. We did what we could with the time we had and improved the car for the race. 7th was not a bad result but we look forward to the Glen.” – shared Catherine Crawford Wallace, Team Sahlen engineer.
Wayne’s double stint drive in the race, balanced in with the 7th place finish meant that he won the Lime Rock Park “Bob Akin” Sportsman Award for GT. And tentatively, the rough numbers for the points show that Wayne has moved from 3rd place to 1st in the “Bob Akin” Sportsman Award point standings. The tentative points show Wayne with 1648 points to Paul Dalla Lana’s 1647. The upcoming Sahlen’s 6 Hours will have a big impact on the standings. And a solid finish by the #42 Team Sahlen Mazda could greatly assist in Wayne duplicating his brother Will’s feat of winning this crown back in 2005.
The 2011 Team Sahlen GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is supported by Mazda, Mazdaspeed, HRPWorld.com, Cool Shirt, Racetech Seats, BBS, Racing Print Media, Alcon, Mothers Polish, EMCO, NGK Spark Plugs, TheRaceSite.com, Western New York Flash, Grassroots Motorsports, Castrol Oil, Holliday Canopies, ASC Industries, Muscle Milk, Iannetti Design Ideas, CM Racing