The pilot of that car above is the great Justin Pawlak. He won the last two events at Long Beach and Atlanta, which puts him in the number one position. If you were watching last year, you know he was so close to winning the championship, finishing a few points shy of Dai Yoshihara. It’s great to see he can still relax and have a good time.
Practice for the top 32 was the first session to run Saturday. The top 32 was a very surprising mix of drivers due to rain half way through the qualifying session on Friday. Qualifying starts with the person with the lowest score in the championship and ends with the highest. Rookies like Chris Ward and Jeremy Lowe got some good scores in before the rain, while the highest contenders had to qualify in a down pour.
The top 32 was filled with some pretty epic battles; Taka Aono in his trusty AE86 gave Tuerck a serious love tap giving Tuerck the win. Essa took out Atlanta’s 2nd place winner, Fredric Aasbo, and Wilkerson took out Lonberger in the Corvette.
Toshiki Yoshioka took victory over Tony Brakohiapa, as well as taking Tony’s bumper for a ride. The best part of the top 32, was not the body panel swap meet, it was the epic battle between Daigo Saito and Conrad Grunewald. Conrad put up an amazing fight going two “one more times” with the giant Daigo. The judges seemed much more fair in judging Daigo’s runs this round, but even with that, Conrad still couldn’t hold back the amazing Daigo and the 1200hp 2jz moved on.
Vaughn did his trademark windmill with his hat, much to the amusement of his umbrella Girl. Forsberg in the background watches quietly
Pawlak lined up knowing he’d have a great shot at a third win. The shot below is just about the most American shot you can take at a drift event; good ole boy with his mustang, brunette holding the umbrella, American flag, and a giant TV in the background. It’s no surprise that so many of us are drawn to this sport, even if drifting is from Japan, hoonage is in our heritage.
The top 16 was held under the lights after the sun had gone down. The weather stayed clear and the driving got even more intense.