Honda Challenge racing in the Northeast is some of the best in the country, and it was definitely game on at VIR.
Sixteen Honda Challenge 2 cars took to the grid at the Eastern States Championships. Last year’s HC2 Champion Erik Olson started from fourth. Jonathan Baker scored the pole position, followed by Robert Casella, fresh off his first win at Lime Rock Park in July and Karl Kondor in third.
When the green flag dropped, so did 16 pressure plates for the standing start, and the race was on! Baker jumped out to an early lead with Casella right behind him, but by lap three, Casella had taken over the top spot and began building his lead. Kondor kept his third spot until lap seven, when a bobble cost him a couple of spots. At that point, Spencer Anderson began charging to the front.
Anderson took over second place, with Olson in third. That order remained till lap 14, when Kondor reclaimed third. By lap 15, Anderson had begun to close what had been Casella’s huge lead. Then, as the white flag flew, Casella’s car began slowing, then coasted to the side of the track and parked. That handed the lead to Anderson.
“We were looking for a top five,” Anderson said. “A podium would have been nice, but I definitely did not expect to win this thing. A couple of guys had engine issues. One guy blew up on the last lap and kind of just put it in my lap. I will take it.”
Casella’s car failure meant Olson finished second instead of third.
“I really wish that Robert Casella could have kept his engine together,” Olson said. “Unfortunately he blew at the start of the last lap. I couldn’t get Spencer. I lost VTEC toward the end. I lost fifth gear, but hey, it was a fun race. I love racing with these guys. I couldn’t be happier.”
Karl Kondor, who finished first, but was disqualified in HC1 at the 2014 Eastern States Championships in a Honda Accord that once belonged to his mother, finished third this year.
“I knew that I had a strong car on the starts and I could put the wheels to everybody into Turn 1,” Kondor said. “I thought I was falling back and then we had a problem with one car and then another, and I ended up finishing on the podium again this year.”