IMSA: Team Sahlen, Stevenson confirm Continental Tire series programs

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Team Sahlen may not be racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, but will stick around the IMSA paddock as members of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series.

The Sahlen camp, a former member of GRAND-AM’s Rolex Series, will field the No. 42 and No. 43 Porsche Caymans in the CTSCC’s Sport Tuner class for drivers Joe Nonnamaker, Will Nonnamaker, Wayne Nonnamaker and Joe Sahlen. The team actually got its start in the ST class all the way back in 1984 when it fielded a Volkswagen Golf.

Through its history, Team Sahlen has fielded Porsches on numerous occasions but in the CTSCC’s Grand Sport class and the Rolex Series’ GT class, not in ST.

“Having been away from racing Porsches for so long and the Cayman being so different from a 911, I didn’t think much of our knowledge base would transfer to these new cars,” Wayne Nonnamaker said. “But I have been pleasantly surprised at what pieces of past information has been useful in the build process.

“I can’t wait to drive the Cayman. With its mid-engine layout vs. the rear engine of the 911, the racer should be a pure joy to drive.”

Last year, Team Sahlen competed in the Rolex Series’ Daytona Prototype class (pictured) and had initially announced that it would do so again in the 2014 inaugural season of the TUSC. However, those plans were cancelled last month.

Also confirming plans to race in the CTSCC is Stevenson Motorsports, who won GRAND-AM’s North American Endurance Championship in the GT class last year.

Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell will drive the No. 6 Stevenson Camaro, while Andy Lally and Matt Bell take over the sister car, the No. 9.

“This is an outstanding driver line up, really one of the best groups I’ve ever had the chance to work with,” team manager Mike Johnson said in a team release. “These four guys not only have great speed and smarts in the car, but they also have a long history with Stevenson.

“The Continental Tire championship is one of the toughest categories in racing and we know how important it is to have a strong group of guys, all working in the same direction. Hopefully with this line-up, we can deliver results and come out on top at the end of the year.”

Usain Bolt, Bill Clinton among headline guests for USGP at COTA

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The Circuit of The Americas paddock ahead of the United States Grand Prix may have been busy with teams and drivers preparing for lights out, but much of the attention lay with a number of headline guests including former presidents and Olympic champions.

As part of its plans to up the excitement levels ahead of Sunday’s grand prix and mirror other sporting events, F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, announced plans a couple of weeks ago to link up with iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt for the pre-race festivities.

Ahead of today’s race in Austin, Buffer will introduce the drivers in a number of groups before offering the call for drivers to start their engines, similar to the pre-race procedure for the Indianapolis 500.

Honorary race starter Bolt, who competed in his last athletic world championship event in London earlier this year, will appear on the start line to complete his signature victory pose before waving the green flags to launch the formation lap.

Bolt was also treated to a hot lap around COTA by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton before the start of the formal pre-race build up program in Austin.

Liberty issued a list of celebrities and other public figures who are confirmed to be attending today’s race, including Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden and actor Owen Wilson among others.

One name that wasn’t on the list? 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who quickly became a focus for the paddock upon arrival three hours before lights out.

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.