05/16/2012 New Jersey - Team Sahlen came into the New Jersey weekend with high hopes of repeating the 2011 podium sweep by Mazda. These hopes were heightened when Dane Cameron placed the #42 at the top of the time charts on both Test Day and Practice Day. Wayne further solidified these hopes with a very fine 5th place qualifying effort.
“We came into the weekend with a very nice set up from last year. But we were not satisfied with just running like we did in 2011, so we came into the weekend with several different set up directions, in hopes of finding that last little bit of extra speed. It seems to have worked as we kept pace with many of the new cars in GT this year at the New Jersey event.” – shared Wayne Nonnamaker
At the start of the race, Wayne held pace, and maintained 6th place in the race. After the 1st round of pit stops, the Team Sahlen crew vaulted Dane Cameron up to 4th in the running order. After the 3rd set of pit stops, Dane was placed in a fine 3rd place. As the pack rolled to the start finish line for the green flag to go back to racing, Dane made what the SPEEDTV crew described as “The Move of the Race”. By the time the pack got to Turn 1, Dane had made a magnificent move to be in 1st place. From that position, Dane held onto 1st until the hard charging Ferrari of Jeff Segal slipped past when the Mazda’s tires started to fade. Dane’s tires continued to fade and this led to the #42 RX-8 eventually slidding off track, that resulted in a 6th place finish.
Dane Cameron shared his thoughts – “The end result at NJMP does not reflect the caliber of car we had all weekend or the strength of Team Sahlen on pit lane. It was great to get out in front and lead laps and show that we will be a contender every race. Wayne had a great stint holding station on a very busy track especially since he was not feeling very well. It was very disappointing to lose a podium finish with only a few minutes left because of a personal error on my part. I can't thank everyone on Team Sahlen enough for putting us in a position to win. Onto the next one!”
In the #43 Team Sahlen Mazda, Joe Nonnamaker and Will Nonnamaker battled mechanical issues all weekend long. This led to the duo only seeing limited time on Test Day. Making up for lost time, the father and son team made set up changes on practice day, looking for peak long term set up on the tires at the abrasive New Jersey track. This effort resulted in Joe Nonnamaker putting his fastest lap of the weekend in Qualifying at a 1:24.9. It had appeared that all the bugs had been worked out of the car at the start of the race, as Joe Nonnamaker charged hard rising up to 12th place. But then a mysterious electronic issue forced the #43 into the pits. A couple of flips of switches seemed to at least get the Mazda running again, and Joe rejoined the pack. Running very consistent laps, Joe drove the remaining part of his stint, then handed over to his son Will.
Will then shares how his stint went, “It was a bit crazy jumping into the car, as the dash was shooting all kinds of warning lights up. You just basically had to ignore them. The electronical problem was also playing havoc with the paddle shifters on downshift. I eventually worked out a system to get through all that. Then with about 15 minutes to go, the brakes started to fade, then eventually go away all together. After the race, we found out it was the bracket holding the brake reservoirs that broke. This caused the reservoirs to go upside down and loose all fluid. It was very interesting driving the car with no brakes for a few laps. Amazingly, I was turning laps that were near B-spec times.”
The 6th place finish keeps the #42 in 7th place in the Team Championship. The #43 moved up to 13th in the Team Championship.
Team Sahlen will be back in action at the Chevrolet GRAND-Am 200 at the Detriot Belle Isle Street Circuit on June 1-2. The race will be televised live on SPEEDTV at 5 pm on the 2nd
Barter 250 2012 - RACE GALLERY