One month after the grand opening of Formula Drift’s eighth season, competitors travelled east to Atlanta, GA for round numero dos. With plenty of shockers after the first round at the Streets of Long Beach, disappointed drivers were eager to move up the ladder while the leaders were looking to maintain their advantage in the chase for the championship.
Now here’s what’s great about Road Atlanta… Walking through the parking lot, license plates were spotted from all over the Southeast. Unlike Long Beach where 95% of spectators came from SoCal, drifting fans from as far as Florida, Alabama and the Carolinas traveled to watch the action in Georgia. This resulted in an enormous, hyped-up crowd, which made for an enjoyable weekend.
The course itself was an interesting dynamic. While Long Beach featured a tight street course with a sexy urban background, it’s not a racetrack. Road Atlanta housed a dedicated road course that’s designed to be challenging with some tricky elevation changes. This caused plenty of headaches for drivers, such as the Long Beach winner Justin Pawlak hitting a wall on Thursday’s practice session. Luckily, his Ford Mustang was repaired by game time.
With the majority of the favored drivers qualifying into the top 32, the action in Atlanta kept spectators on the edge of their seats. Pawlak, Matt Powers and Daijiro Yoshihara had the most points going into the round but defending champ Vaughn Gittin Jr had a lot to prove after failing to qualify in Cali. Gittin demonstrated he was back to his old form reaching the top eight, before getting knocked out by Dai. Other strong drivers included Chris Forsberg and Darren McNamara. John Russakoff surprised the field by making it to the final four in his ’84 Corolla and defeating top qualifier Conrad Grunewald. Toshiki Yoshioka and Patrick Mordaunt also finished strong.
But as the sun set in Braselton, Dai drove like a machine and was unstoppable in his S13 beating out McNamara and his Saturn Sky in the final match. This is Dai’s second consecutive victory at Road Atlanta and he tops the leader board after two rounds. But it’s still early with five rounds left in the season, which means anything can happen. Stay tuned!