The Midwest Drift Union set its sights northeast of its regular region to literal North East, Pennsylvania, for the third round of its 2017 Formula Drift Pro-Am season, where Geoff Donati pulled off his third win of the year and remains undefeated going into the final round.
Lake Erie Speedway, formerly a NASCAR sanctioned track, served as the battleground for the pool of drivers not quite large enough to warrant a top-16 bracket.
As he did at round one in St. Louis, Garrett Denton grabbed the top qualifier spot. This put him up against Shane Whalley and his FC in the first match of top eight, with Denton's S13 getting the nod. Derek Madison's teal S14 (not to be confused with Kaz Johnson's, which looks identical) got the win over Dan Perlenfein's SC.
Jonathan Hurst's 350Z puts down ludicrous numbers, and he took the win over the black E46 of Dan Nikov to begin the second half of the top eight bracket. Donati's win over Allen Boss inched him further toward his win.
In the final four, Madison would meet Denton with Denton taking the win. As in St. Louis, Donati and Hurst once again found themselves battling in the final four, and as before, Donati took the win.
This placed Madison and Hurst in a battle for third, with Madison landing on the MDU podium for the first time.
"It's pretty crazy, I didn't expect the car to hold together well enough to get third place," Madison said. "Going into the final four after my chase run against Denton, my clutch pushrod completely separated from the clevis and I had no clutch. I had to start my car in third gear at the line and take off. I laid down a decent run but Denton's just a hell of a driver. From there, I started in third on my lead run against Hurst and was able to rig it back together enough to go from first to third one time on my chase run."
This set the pairing for a round one rematch between Denton and Donati, where a missed shift on Denton's part assisted Denton in securing the hat trick.
"It definitely feels good to be back on the podium," Denton said. "We're glad we got the car finally to stay in one piece, as that didn't happen first or second round. I really wish we could have done a little better in the final against Geoff. I just missed a shift on my follow run and he got away from me. I couldn't have asked more out of my car or crew, it just came down to me making a mistake at the end."
With Donati once again taking home the gold, he further advanced his lead to 24 points over second-place Denton.
"I still can't believe it," Donati said of his win. "There's a lot of stuff that has to go right in a drift event, and for that to happen three times in a row just seems insane to me. Even stuff that isn't in your control has to work in your favor, so it's really just unbelievable."
The fourth round will take place in conjunction with Southeast Drift Union and U.S. Drift on September 15-16 at Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia, OH. If Donati pulls off another win, he will be the first driver in MDU history to sweep the entire series