Team Sahlen returned to the American Endurance Racing event at Mid-Ohio seeking to recapture the overall victory the team had secured in 2015. The team had come close to repeating in 2016, with runner up finishes in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s 8 ½ hour events. The competition has continued to get better and better each year in American Endurance Racing. This meant that Team Sahlen would have to dig deep to make improvements to get back on top this year.
Joe Nonnamaker shared his thoughts before the race weekend – “The competition has really heated up in the American Endurance Racing series. We came to Mid-Ohio last year and finished runner-up in both races. In the off season, we worked hard as a team to be able to improve. The crew worked on improving our pit stops speed. And we worked on making some performance improvements to the Caymans.”
Qualifying on Friday was beautiful blue skies. A large amount of race cars on the short 2.25 mile Mid-Ohio course meant finding a clear lap would not be easy. At the end of the day, Team Sahlen found a enough clear track to secure the Pole Position and 5th overall to start Saturday’s 8 ½ hour enduro.
Saturday’s race started cleanly, with both Team Sahlen Porsches running smoothly at the front. At one point, both Caymans were in the top 3 overall. New car gremlins saw the #44 “Saucy” sidelined with some electrical issues. #41 “Lunatic” continued running at the front, leading the way. Then with only 3 hours to go in the race, a broken driveshaft sidelined the #41 out of the lead pack.
Tony Artino shared his thoughts on the Saturday race – “What a disappointment to set on the pole, set fastest race lap, lead the most laps, to then have a driveshaft take us out so near the end. To the credit of the crew, everyone went back to the garage to prepare for Sunday’s 8 ½ hour race in hopes of redeeming this near victory.”
For Sunday, Team Sahlen rolled their #43 “Pepper” out of the trailer to take the place of the sidelined #44 “Saucy”. This tried and true Cayman had won for Team Sahlen earlier in the year at American Endurance Racing’s Watkins Glen event. So there was strong belief in the team that there could again be 2 strong Team Sahlen race cars up front.
The race started with Team Sahlen running a steady pace, sitting in 3rd and 4th. Then an electrical gremlin struck the #41 “Lunatic” racer. This left #43 “Pepper” to fend by itself for the remainder of the 7 hour event. As the race moved forward, Team Sahlen used excellent pit strategy during a full course caution in hour two to leap frog into the lead. From this lead, Team Sahlen never looked back. By the end of the 8 ½ hour race, Team Sahlen had an 8 lap lead over the competition. The mission had been accomplished with the Overall and Class 5 Victory. To top off the day, Team Sahlen also led the most laps and set fastest race lap.
Wayne Nonnamaker – “You don’t get days like this very often in racing. To be able to roll a car out of the trailer and have such a dominant win is rare. This is a testament to the Team Sahlen crew for working so hard in the shop to ensure that “Pepper” was so well prepared to race as a back up.”
Joe Sahlen shared his thoughts – “This was such a great weekend. The weather was fantastic. The racing was super clean. I think there was only like 4 full course cautions in 17 hours of racing. Our Caymans don’t have a scratch on them. We really enjoy racing with American Endurance Racing. And to come out of this weekend with such a picture perfect win is put the weekend over the top.”
Click here for the full American Endurance Racing Mid-Ohio race weekend results:
Team Sahlen’s next and final race of the 2017 race season will be with American Endurance Racing at the National Corvette Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The dual 9 hours races will be on November 18th and 19th. The team will be campaigning their Porsche Caymans in the Class 5 in hopes another Overall Victory to cap the season off.