A day before Friday qualifying for Formula DRIFT’s season ender at Irwindale Speedway in Southern California, a handful of high-profile teams suffered some bad luck in practice. Fourth in points Kristaps Bluss had the V-8 in his HGK Motorsports BMW E46 go belly up, a potentially event-ending development had it not been for Bluss’ so-called #eurofighter E92 – newly finished for SEMA from what we understand – ready to step in. Ryan Tuerck in the Gumout Toyota 86 had his 2JZ go pop also when it ingested a belt that flew off; he was back in action the following day after his team thrashed all night. And three-time champ Chris Forsberg had what looked like a pretty nasty wreck in his NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z to begin Thursday night practice, but by Friday his crew gave him a race car that looked like it never missed a beat.
Unfortunately for Tuerck, he blew up again, this time leaving bottom end parts and oil on the track; luckily it was just past the finish line and – more critically – after his second qualifying lap. Also, Cameron Moore had an issue with the Nameless Performance 86 when he was warming up in the burnout box, but he had already recorded one lap and was going to have to be happy with the luck of the draw.
Your number one qualifier after Friday is Chelsea DeNofa in the BC Racing Ford Mustang RTR, repeating what he did in New Jersey for Round 4. He did it with an impressive score of 98 out of 100 points, his highest score yet as a pro driver in FD, and gets a Top-32 round bye to begin Saturday eliminations. Piotr Wiecek and current points leader (and likely 2017 champion) James Deane also take single laps to start Top 32 in their twinsy Worthouse Drift Team S15s, as does Dai Yoshihara in the Turn 14 Subaru BRZ, Forsberg in his Z34, and Mike Essa in the Essa Autosport E46.
We explained in our Round-7 coverage what needs to happen in order for Deane to clinch the title – it might be worth a reread. Saturday should be a blast, even if the championship is already decided; we feel anyone can win at Irwindale, and from the looks of the driving so far no one is leaving anything to chance. If you can’t be there yourself to take in the final Formula D event at the House of Drift, at least check it out on the FD live stream.