(06/11/2012) Mid Ohio - Team Sahlen entered the EMCO Gears Classic Event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in high hopes of claiming a 2nd Podium of the year at the Nonnamaker Family’s home track.
Team Sahlen and the Nonnamaker family hosted over 150 guests on race day for the annual cook out party. At the cookout, guests were not only treated to delicious Sahlen Hot Dogs, but with the special bonus of the grilling being done by none other than Joe Sahlen.
“The party was a blast this year. We anticipated 150 guests, and I think we ended up with more like 200+ guests. We also had lots of local fans here cheering us on. In fact, we had so many fans that we nearly sold out of hats and shirts. Thankfully it was a beautiful day as well, so everyone was able to have wonderful time enjoying the summer in Ohio at the race track.” – shared Will Nonnamaker
In test day and practice, Team Sahlen showed very competitive speed. In fact, in every timed session, Team Sahlen was in the Top 6 on the sheets. For Qualifying, Wayne Nonnamaker placed the #42 RX-8 in 5th on the grid. Joe Nonnamaker and Joe Sahlen respectively gridded 13th and 14th, with both drivers setting their personal best times during the Qualifying session.
During the race, Wayne Nonnamaker held steady, rising all the way up to 3rd place, up until handing over to finishing driver Dane Cameron. Dane did a fantastic middle stint of the race, leading 13 laps. The last round of pit stop sorted Dane back to 6th place, where he fought hard to maintain over some very hard charging GT cars, including last year’s series champions, the #59 Brumos Porsche.
Dane added his thoughts – “Mid Ohio was a bittersweet race for the #42. It was a fun weekend with all the crew's friends and family at the track Saturday, we wanted to put on a good show for them! We had a very strong car in the race, we were able to take the lead and battle in the top 3 throughout the middle stint. Unfortunately we lost some spots on our full fill during the final stop and slipped back to 6th place. I felt we had a package capable to be on the podium so it was a bit frustrating to come home 6th after running so strong early on. But Wayne had his best qualifying of the year and ran a really strong pace so there are many positives we can take away from the weekend as we regroup for road America.”
Joe Nonnamaker drove one of his best races all year at his favorite track – Mid-Ohio. He had placed the #43 RX-8 as high as 7th place. Things were looking good as Joe handed over to Wayne, but then shifter vacuum pump issues forced the car to fight for everything to maintain a 12th place finish.
“It would have been nice to have had 2 consecutive Top 10’s in a row after Detroit, but it was not to be today. We settled for 12th place, and the consolation that we still managed to finish despite our shifting problems.” –stated Joe Nonnamaker
The #49 RX-8 had a perfectly clean race. Joe Sahlen both started and finished the race, with Will Nonnamaker offering relief duty in the middle. Joe had a near scare at the end of the race, when the leading Daytona Prototypes collided into each other just in front of Joe. The SPEEDTV cameras caught Joe's fantastic reactions to avoid the spinning DP's and go unscathed down the track. In the end, the #49 finished in the money at 15th.
Currently, Mazda is 11 points out of the Manufacture Championship Lead. Additionally, the #42 is maintaining a secure spot in the Top 10 in the Team battle (8th place). And the #43 is working hard to creep into the Top 10, sitting at 13th in the order.
Team Sahlen will again be racing on June 23rd at 11 am for the Grand-Am Sports Car Series 250 at Road America. The race will be televised live on SPEEDTV at 12 noon ET.
EMCO Gears Classic 2012 - RACE GALLERY