More than three dozen Honda and Acura racers made the annual trek to Lexington, Ohio, for this year's national championship races, with the majority taking part in the Honda Challenge classes.
In Honda Challenge 1, Jason Kohler led the field from the green flag in his Honda S2000 and was never challenged to claim his first NASA National Championship. Driving a newly race-prepared Acura Integra – a job that was completed only just before the race start – Jonathan Meris came from the back of the starting field to record an incredible second-place finish.
"I was able to get a great start. I think the open track in front of me really helped me get a gap to second place, as everyone had to sort themselves out behind me," Kohler said. "The car was really good. The tires were getting greasy at the end, but that happens when you push it really hard."
Kohler doubled his championship tally on Sunday, with a victory in the TTB class in the Group F Time Trial event.
Jeremy Croiset took the Honda Challenge 2 crown in his Honda CRX after an early-race battle with Egidijus [Eddie] Sadauskas until Lap 5, when Sadauskas went off track in the Mid-Ohio Carousel and Croiset broke away from the rest of the H2 field to claim his first NASA Championship trophy.
"My crew chief helped me put together a dynamite car," Croiset said. "The CRX was perfect from the beginning to the end. I got a good start and that helped me get a gap, which was critical in my race. Egidijus was fast all weekend, but I got the jump at the start and that is what I needed. I had to drive a little defensively for a few laps until Eddie went off. That allowed me to get a gap to the end of the race."
Members of the Honda Racing Line taking part in the Honda Challenge races were eligible for up to $2,500 in contingency awards at Mid-Ohio. In addition, American Honda provided catered trackside hospitality exclusively for Honda/Acura competitors and their crew members.
Sadauskas rebounded from his H2 disappointment on Saturday with a victory the following day in his PTB-class Honda Civic.. "It was definitely tough. They gave me a race for my money. Coming through the corners and passing [slower] traffic was a hassle, but I made it and I'm really happy," Sadauskas said at the finish.
Other Honda winners on the weekend included Eric Waddell, victorious in his Honda Civic in PTE, and Aaron Byram, who claimed TTS honors in the Group H Time Trial. "Everything just worked out today. There were a couple of 'moments' at the start, but traffic worked to my advantage and I just brought it home," Waddell recounted of his victory.
Launched in July 2009, the Honda Racing Line is a program targeted at licensed participants in sanctioned amateur and entry-level professional racing. The Honda Racing Line was formed to provide its members with a direct connection to Honda Performance Development and its unparalleled record of success at the highest levels of motorsport. Competitors may register for the Honda Racing Line through HondaRacingLine.com.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993, and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines.
As one of three engine suppliers to the IZOD IndyCar Series, Honda won this year's Indianapolis 500 with driver Dario Franchitti; and competes in prototype sports-car racing under the HPD banner in the American Le Mans Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship. HPD offers a variety of race engines for track applications from prototype sports cars to karting; and showcases 'fun-to-drive' products for professional, amateur and entry-level racers.
2012 Honda NASA National Champions:
Honda Challenge 1: Jason Kohler, Honda S2000
Honda Challenge 2: Jeremy Croiset, Honda CRX
TTB: Jason Kohler, Honda S200
TTS: Aaron Byram, Honda
PTB: Egidijus Sadauskas, Honda Civic
PTE: Eric Waddell, Honda Civic