The Honda Challenge Series Presented by Honda Performance Development took to Road Atlanta for NASA Southeast’s second event of 2013, the Pot-o-Gold Rush. During qualifying, Carl Kondor came in first at 1:41.079, with Kris Popovic in second at 1:41.611 and Ron Rigdon in third at 1:41.618. Traffic was a big factor, and a 60-car count in the Lightning group made qualifying difficult.
The race was scheduled late in the afternoon, which meant track
conditions changed significantly from practice to qualifying. The Honda Challenge 1 cars were gridded up front, followed by Thunder Roadsters.
Karl Kondor led the field for the first couple of laps as the Roadsters worked their way through the Hondas. On the third lap, the leaders caught some slower cars, which made it difficult to catch Kondor. Lapped traffic did, however, slow second-place Popovic, and that gave Rigdon a chance late in the race to take second place away.
Unfortunately, Rigdon was involved in an incident where a young driver attempted to make a low-percentage, dive-bomb pass, which damaged not only Rigdon’s car, but also a Spec E30 and a 944. The race ended under caution, with Kondor taking overall and Honda Challenge 1 wins, followed by Popovic, Rigdon, Iourie Gorin and Rob Oxford.
On Sunday, Rigdon’s car had significant damage from Saturday’s incident, but he was able to qualify first overall with a time of 1:40.796, followed by Kondor at 1:40.859 and Popovic at 1:45.504. Honda Challenge cars gridded last among three split starts.
As the green flag dropped, Honda Challenge drivers worked quickly
through the slower cars toward the front of the third group. With two laps in
the books, Rigdon got boxed in by slower traffic Kondor and Pacollich were passing. The third lap was black flagged for a spec E30 that hit the wall
in Turn 5. Drivers waited on pit road while crews repaired the tire barrier.
The race restarted with only 10 minutes left, with Kondor up in front of the HC1 cars. Rigdon however caught Popovic sleeping on the restart and passed him and four other cars. Rigdon’s lead soon diminished as Popovic caught him
going into Turn 1, making a clever pass, boxing Rigdon in behind a slower car.
The race was caution-flagged the next lap and finished up with Kondor winning, followed by Popovic, and Rigdon in third place.