Michael Kanisczak lost the lead briefly on the late-race restart, but took it back in time to nab his first Honda Challenge 1 Championship.

One interesting detail about the Honda Challenge 1 podium at the 2016 Eastern States Championships was that there were no drivers repeating a top-three finish from last year. All three at this year’s race were different drivers. One thing they all had in common was the platform they chose: the Honda S2000.

From the seven-car field, Michael Kanisczak started from pole. Daniel Honovich started second, with John Oldt just .103 seconds behind him in third.

For the traditional standing start, Kanisczak took full advantage of pole position and led the field into Turn 1. By the time the field came around for the first lap, Kanisczak had at least 10 car lengths on the field. And that was the order that held until a full-course caution emerged.

A Honda Challenge 1 car and a Performance Touring entry got together in the entrance to the Uphill Esses and slid off into the Armco on the outside. That brought out the safety car for about 10 minutes.

On the restart, one of the PTB cars dropped some fluid in the braking zone to the Bus Stop, bringing out surface-condition flags. Double-yellows came out on the next lap. On the restart, Honovich got around Kanisczak. On the following lap, the white flag came out and Kanisczak knew it was go time.

“We had a very sloppy restart with a lot of cars, and that made it very interesting,” Kanisczak said. “We had oil dumped in the Bus Stop and a lot of positions were exchanged, but I was able to regain the lead and ended up picking up first by keeping a clean lap. It was a tough restart.”

Honovich wasn’t able to capitalize on is late-race lead and finished second.

Daniel Honovich took advantage of a late-race restart to take the lead, but couldn’t hold on, and finished second.
Daniel Honovich took advantage of a late-race restart to take the lead, but couldn’t hold on, and finished second.

“From the beginning it was nice and smooth, but the restart got a little bit sketchy, and I actually got into first for a period of time in some ‘interesting’ traffic and he did take the place back,” Honovich said. “But overall I’m happy with a second-place finish.”

Stephen Pearce rounded out the podium in third.

Stephen Pearce overcame car problems the morning of the Championships race to bring home third in Honda Challenge 1.
Stephen Pearce overcame car problems the morning of the Championships race to bring home third in Honda Challenge 1.

“I had a bunch of car problems this morning, so I didn’t think I’d even make the start, but managed to get out there and keep it clean,” he said. “It was really, really packed with cars on the restart. I managed to get around Vincent (Coker) in Turn 5. It looked like his tires were going away. I managed to get around him, capitalizing on his car and kept it in front of him for the rest of the race. So, I’m just happy to be here and hoping for another one next year.”

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