Kevin Helms started from pole and led for a few laps, trailed in second for a few laps, then retook the lead to take the win and his first Championship in Honda Challenge 1.

Honda Challenge 1 presented by Honda Performance Development has traditionally been populated with Honda Civics and Acura Integras of varying stripes. However, in recent years as prices on used Honda S2000s have dropped, the field is tipping more and more toward the rear-wheel drive sports car, and the HC1 field at VIR was no exception. There was even a V6-powered Acura TLX thrown in to make the field even more interesting.

Kevin Helms took pole in his old-school Civic, followed by Brian Shanfeld in his 2015 TLX, which posted lap times within one second of Helms’. Matthew Briddell started from third in his S2000, about 2 seconds back.

For the standing start, Helms got the jump on the rest of the field and held it for four laps when Shanfeld used the V6’s torque to get around Helms. That only lasted three laps. Helms retook the lead he would never relinquish and went on to win and his first Championship.

“I knew it was going to be dicey at the beginning, that V6, that TLX has so much horsepower on the straightaways, so in the small parts I tried to get enough of gap so he couldn’t catch me in the end,” Helms said. “And then he got around me and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I can’t let this happen,’ and we started dicing it up. He started making little mistakes. I think tires were starting to get a little greasy for him. Mine were still good, so I was like, ‘All right, it’s time to go now.’”

From his second-place position, Shanfeld had to fend off John Oldt, who started from fourth in his S2000. Briddell had dropped to fourth and couldn’t seem to find the speed to reclaim his starting position. However, on lap 11, Oldt’s motor started going sour, emitting a horrifying exhaust note as it rounded the circuit. Oldt began to drop back and Briddell reclaimed the third spot, which he would keep till the end.

Brian Shanfeld had the only V6-powered car in the Honda Challenge 1 field — also the newest — and brought home second place.
Brian Shanfeld had the only V6-powered car in the Honda Challenge 1 field — also the newest — and brought home second place.

“I got a gift,” Briddell said. “I was putting in as fast I could consistent laps to just maintain my position and I got lucky. Simple as that.”

Briddell never challenged Shanfeld for position, and Shanfeld finished in second, the same position from which he started.

“I managed to squeeze by and kind of ran my tires off trying to stay up front, so I ended up back in second place and I tried to chase down Kevin,” Shanfeld said. “In the end, I was getting a little low on fuel so I had to back it off for the last few laps.”

Matthew Briddell benefited from a car ahead whose engine went south, and picked up third place in Honda Challenge 1.
Matthew Briddell benefited from a car ahead whose engine went south, and picked up third place in Honda Challenge 1.
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