Honda Cup weekend #4 – Cal Speedway
This past weekend, the SCCA Honda Cup made its way to the 2.8 mile Roval at California Speedway. The Roval, so named because it combines both the interior road track and the high speed banked oval into a single course, is a real test of driver skill. The combination of extreme speed, and precise cornering proved quite a challenge to the near 70 drivers on the track, as did the soaring triple digit heat.
After the last event at Buttonwillow Raceway, the HC contenders have become a bit more spread out. Derek Stevens and his lightning fast yellow Civic had built a commanding lead with only Rylan Hazelton and Richard Laifatt in their S2000s still realistically in contention.
Saturday’s event proved a hot one in more ways than the weather. (although Hazleton fell asleep in his truck and nearly missed the race altogether!) Stevens was at the front of the grid and took a quick lead he would never relinquish. The battle for second was much closer with Richard and Rylan passing through the slower traffic like Duane Wade through the Detroit Pistons’ defense. Laifatt lead for most of the first ten laps, but a mis-shift gave Hazelton the break he needed to pass, and Laifatt spent the rest of the race trying unsuccessfully to retake him. The finish: Stevens, Hazelton, Laifatt. As we’ve explained earlier, there are a number of classes running at the same time on track, some with significantly greater horsepower than the Honda Cup cars, yet only one NASCAR type car was able to finish ahead of the Honda Cup podium group. Out of 61 cars, the Honda Cup gang managed 2nd, 3rd and 4th overall!
Sunday’s Honda Cup race finished with the same podium, but car problems in qualifying placed Laifatt much further back in the grid at the start of the race which gave him little chance to catch up to, let alone pass, the leaders Stevens and Hazelton. Hazleton gave the series leader an excellent run for the money and led for a number of laps. Unfortunately, the vastly superior HP-wieght ratio of the Civic proved too much to hold off, and Stevens again took the checkered flag.
With the season half complete, Stevens has built a very substantial lead and will be very tough to catch. Lest we forget, David Karner was in a similar position last year, yet Jeff Owen still managed an improbable championship. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and the fat lady ain’t singing yet!
More photos and discussion here: