Honda Cup Recap… Buttonwillow

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As reported here earlier, this past weekend was the start of the 2006 Honda Cup season. The place was Buttonwillow Raceway in Southern California. The cars were running configuration number one, a challenging 3 mile course featuring tight corners, high speed sweepers, esses, off camber switchbacks, and five different places where the cars get over 100 MPH. To add to the difficulty, the Honda Cup race was run simultaneously with both the GT and Super Production cars. (Both with much greater horsepower than the Hondas)

This event showed again that superior driver skill and a nimble car can overcome huge horsepower disadvantages and Saturday’s race caused quite a stir when the first four finishing Honda Cup cars beat all the entries in GT and super production!

Here’s a complete recap of both day’s races:

Saturday’s race saw Derek Stevens’ screaming yellow Civic on the pole with Rylan and his S2000 on his outside. Right behind them on the grid were two big horsepower V8s. There were threatening storm clouds on the horizon, but most of the racers gambled and ran their “dry” tires. The rain came within a half mile of the track, but managed to stay clear for the duration of the race.

As the green flag dropped, the two big HP cars were able to muscle past the Hondas leading into the first turn. One takes the overall lead and the second settles in between the Civic and the S2000. The two V8s were much slower in the turns, but proved very difficult to get around for the first few laps despite being pressured by the two more race-worthy Honda’s. Finally, the lead car can no longer hold the fast line, and it spins off into the dirt. This gives the Civic a chance to really put the hammer down and stretch out his lead. Rylan’s S2000 is still stuck behind the slower V8, and Derek widens the gap.

The V8 finally realizes that he’s holding Rylan up and lets him pass. At this point, the Civic has opened an eight second lead on the S2000. Rylan gives it everything he can, but before he can reel in the first place Civic, there is an incident on the track which causes a full course caution. The yellow stays out and the race finishes with Rylan not allowed to further improve his position. Alex Chen in his S2000 was running third, but Tom Lepper managed to speed his Acura past him right before the checkered flag as the caution was lifted right at the end. (after the leaders had finished) On review by the officials, it was considered an “unsafe” pass, and third place was awarded to Alex and his S2000.

Unfortunately, neither Will nor Richard were able to have their cars ready for this race, so there were only two S2000s competing. Rylan took fastest lap, and with the S2000s finishing second and third, they represented us very well.

Sunday was another day and another race.

Sunday the weather is sunny and beautiful. The yellow Civic again takes the poll, but this time Tom Lepper in his Integra sneaks in for the outside position. Rylan is third and Alex is right behind him in fourth for the grid. This time, they weren’t going to let the V8s get in their way!

Right off the start, Rylan and Derek pull to the lead and shut the door on the cars behind them. (Rylan makes an excellent move to pass Lepper and will spend the rest of the race with Tom somewhere in his rear view mirror.) Entering the most difficult turn on the course, Star Mazda, the yellow Civic is carrying way too much speed and goes spinning off into the mud. Stuck there, Derek’s race is over. With nobody in front of him, Rylan puts the pedal to the metal and blazes ahead. Tom Lepper isn’t going to quit, though, and he pushes Rylan to drive at his absolute limits. As the race progresses, Rylan can feel the grip of his tires slowly disappearing, and Lepper gets closer and closer. They get held up by some slower traffic, and the Integra is right on Rylan’s tail. He manages to maneuver his S2000 around the slower traffic and Lepper gets stuck. Rylan uses this opportunity to stretch out the gap and finishes the last two laps without incident to take his first checkered flag of ’06. Lepper is second, and Alex again manages to join the podium group with another third place finish.

As of the first two races, the standings are as follows:

1st place: Rylan Hazleton – 38 points – S2000

2nd place: Alex Chen – 28 points – S2000

2nd place: Tom Lepper – 28 points – Integra

4th place: Alexander Card – 22 points – Civic

4th place: Derek Stevens – 22 points – Civic

The next race is at Phoenix International Raceway on April 1st and 2nd. Stay tuned

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