HART Returns To Victory Circle at Kansas Speedway
Equipped with Honda Performance Development’s new brake system, the Honda of America Racing Team duo of Chad Gilsinger and Michael Valiante returned to victory Circle Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, claiming the ST class honors at the fifth round of the 2014 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Championship.
The updated Honda Racing/HPD brake package, recently approved for compeititon by the International Motor Sports Association sanctioning body, enabled the 2014 Honda Civic Si fielded by HART and other Honda-equipped teams to run the brakes hard from start to finish for the first time this season.
After two hours and 30 minutes on the Kansas Speedway road course, Valiante and Gilsinger came out ahead in a battle with Will and Wayne Nonnamaker, with the Honda edging the Nonnamaker Porsche by just 79 hundredths of a second at the checkers.
“This was one of the toughest wins I’ve had, with that much pressure and knowing that second and third were coming,” said Valiante, who took over from starting driver Gilsinger near the mid-point of the contest. “I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes, particularly when they are on your bumper. I kept telling myself, ‘hit your marks, hit your marks’ and get good exit shots, and I was able to pull it off. That’s one of the toughest wins I’ve had.”
Valiante first took his Honda into the lead with 45 minutes remaining, passing Charles Espenlaub in the Porsche Cayman, which co-driver Corey Lewis had started from the ST pole. Wayne Nonnamaker – who took over for his brother Will at the mandatory pit stop - made repeated challenges in the final 30 minutes, but was unable to find a way past the HART Civic Si.
Lewis and Espenlaub finished third, followed by Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple in the No. 75 Compass360 Racing Civic Si. Eversley showed great confidence in his new brake package, repeatedly taking competitors deep into Turn 1, while managing a driveshaft vibration and shifter issue for the final hour.
His valiant effort gave Honda two finishes in the top four at Kansas. Both top-finishing Civics were running the sealed Honda K24 engine package, also available to competitors through the Honda Racing Line.
The next race for the Continental Tire Challenge will be at Watkins Glen International on Saturday, June 28.