For Round 3, the 2008 Formula Drift series headed up to New Jersey to finish its run on the East Coast. The famed Englishtown Raceway Park hosted the series for the first time on the newly-built road course, providing plenty of close-range action for the fans. Entering the event, Chris Forsberg and Samuel Hubinette were tied for the series points standings, but both were eliminated in the Great 8 and would concede their lead in the chase for the 2008 Castrol Syntec Power Cup.
Englishtown is considered to be the birthplace of East Coast drifting for many, including Drift Alliance members Vaughn Gittin Jr., Tony Angelo, Chris Forsberg, and Ryan Tuerck. Each of their runs was met with the loudest cheers of the day from family, friends, and familiar strangers in the booming NJ crowd. In qualifying, it would be Dai Yoshihara in the Bridgestone Tires / RMR Pontiac GTO at the top of the list, tearing up the road course with some of the fastest entry speeds. Reigning series champ Tanner Foust in the Rockstar / AEM Nissan 350Z and Dai's team owner Rhys Millen in the Pontiac / Red Bull Racing Solstice GXP would follow up with the 2nd and 3rd spots respectively, setting the stage for an exciting evening to remember.
The main event brought some new ups and downs for those in the top 16 bracket. Blake Fuller piloting the Braille Batteries Nissan 350Z made his first top 16 appearance since he campaigned a RWD-converted Integra in the inaugural Formula D season. A wipe out in the dirt ended his day early however, a fate that befell Darren McNamara and Ryuji Miki as well during the battles. Unfortunately, hometown favorite Gittin Jr wouldn’t get a chance to show his stuff as a mechanical failure in the steering rack couldn’t be repaired in the allotted 5 minute time period, and his friend and Drift Alliance companion Forsberg was given a bye in the first round. Their fight on home turf will have to wait for next year.
As the sun began to set on Saturday and the field was drawn down to four, things felt eerily similar to last year at Wall. The aforementioned Foust, Millen, and Yoshihara were once again joined by Tyler McQuarrie in the Hankook Tires Porsche GT2 to vie for the top of the podium. This time around, McQuarrie defeated top qualifier Yoshihara in the first semifinal, while Foust continued his hard charge and defeated Millen in the other semifinal. That left the two Pontiacs to settle things for the final podium position. This year it would be Millen taking third, knocking out Yoshihara in one of the closest match ups of the night.
In the final round, Foust was able to outgun McQuarrie’s faster Porsche and take the win. It was the first win of the season for Foust, and with the points gained he assumes the lead in the season points standings. There are four rounds still to come, so things are far from over. Next up, Formula D heads West for its’ inaugural visit to the Sin City on July 11th and 12th at Las Vegas Speedway. Stay tuned to Modified for the latest as the 2008 series continues!