This past weekend I was fortunate enough to head back home to the Northeast to bring you coverage of Formula Drift Round 4 from The Wall Speedway in Wall Township, New Jersey. The Wall Speedway is kind of home turf for me since I am from New York. This would be my third year in a row covering this leg of the event and every year it gets better and better.
Photos By: Sid Fligel exclusively for StanceNation.com
This year featured a layout that was different than the previous years. Before, the drivers drifted around the bowl making a figure eight, which had them crossing in the middle making a “X”. The “X” portion was a key time for photographers to grab that signature tandem shot and the drivers really stuck close so we could. This year the powers that be changed the layout and did away with the “X”. Now they just made a spiral around the track and called it a day. At first I was disappointed but after the first few runs, I completely forgot about it.
With Palm Beach behind everyone it was really anyone’s race. Would Michael Essa give us a repeat performance or would one of the rookies make a run for the championship?
After qualifying, Justin Pawlak in the #13 Falken Tire Ford Mustang was in the top spot. Opposite him was ex-rookie of the year leader, Nate Hamilton.
There were some unexpected finishes though. Dai Yoshihara qualified 30th which paired him up with Fredric, The Norwegian Hammer, Aasbo. On the other side of the spectrum, rookie (now your current rookie of the year) Marc Landerville qualified 21, which would pair him up with Kyle Mohan.
Top 32 went as planned with the exception of Marc Landerville knocking out Kyle Mohan (due to engine problems).
There were some amazing runs among the craziness. The battle between Michael Essa and Chris Forsberg may have been the best battle I have seen this season. Another good one was Tyler McQuarrie and Marc Landerville. Landerville looked very good out there but McQuarrie got the edge and took home the victory.
Top 16 is where things got interesting. Ryan Tuerck crashed and did not finish. Chelsea Denofa had engine troubles and did not finish. Jr crashed into Daigo and lost because of it. Matt Field almost took out Fredric Aasbo but hit the clipping point and was given a 0.
Top 8 featured one my favorite battles of the day, Daigo Saito and Fredric Aasbo. They were on each other then entire time but in the end (after the “computers reversed the call by accident”) Daigo Saito advanced into the top 4.
The top 4 featured Darren McNamara against Daigo Saito and JTP against Chris, The Force, Forsberg. McNamara had been running great all day. He qualified 2nd and coasted into the top 4. Daigo Saito was not about to let him have another easy battle. D-Mac eventually crashed and Daigo advanced into the finals for the second straight event.
On the other side, JTP had been driving his very best and continued to do so against Forsberg. After hitting the wall in his first run, Forsberg basically handed the win to JTP.
The 3rd place match up was one of the more exciting matches of the day. With D-Mac falling behind to The Force, D-Mac decided to gun it and it resulted in him taking off Forsberg’s passenger door. Both were in good spirits about it afterwards so expect to see meme’s and jokes around the Internet.
The final battle wasn’t really a battle as much as it was a landslide victory for Daigo Saito. JTP really didn’t put up a fight and Saito cruised to his second victory of the season.
As the dust settles and smoke clears, here is how the point’s standings look:
1: Daigo Saito – 361.00
2: Vaughn Gitten Jr. – 300.00
3: Michael Essa – 296.50
4: Chris Forsberg – 286.00
5: Justin Pawlak – 282.50
Thanks everyone for checking out our coverage of Round 4! If you haven’t already done so, get your tickets for Round 5 in Monroe, WA July 19-20th.