Going into Formula D's final round this weekend at Irwindale Speedway, also known as the House of Drift, we caught up with the three points leaders in the series. Vaughn Gittin Jr., in the Monster Energy Ford Mustang, is currently at 443 points, while last year's Formula D champion, Fredric Aasbo, is standing at 467 points. Being consistent has given Chris Forsberg the upper hand and has earned him the lead with 503 points.
Vaughn Gittin Jr.
SS: What's going through your mind going into the final round?
VG: For me, I already feel like the season has been so successful for us. We brought our brand new Ford Mustang RTR. We developed it last year and we've been leading the championship all year. On paper, two wins and four first place qualifiers. It's been a successful year, especially for a new car. I feel like all the pressure is really on Forsberg and Aasbo. I can only go up and they can only go down. I love Irwindale and I'm excited!
SS: Historically you've done well at Irwindale Speedway, right?
VG: Yeah, I mean I had some of the greatest successes of my career here. But this weekend is already proving to be challenging. We're still trying to get the car dialed for this track. Today we made progress, but we're not exactly where we want to be.
SS: So you're currently having some challenges.
VG: Oh yeah. We just had a four-hour practice and I'm still not happy where we're at with the car. The new Ford Mustang has all independent rear suspension. So there are a lot of things to adjust and a lot of things we need to do to dial in the car. Right now we're studying data and backtracking everything we did to get it perfect for tomorrow.
SS: How are you feeling about your current standing?
FA: This is where you want to be. This is for Chris to lose or Vaughn or ours to win. But Chris has been so consistent all the way throughout the season. Hats off to him and his crew. They work really hard and it's paid off and made a lot of right decisions. In reality, I'm a realist, it's going to be tough taking the championship. We have a lot of hungry guys coming up behind us. I think anything can happen this weekend.
SS: Did you and the crew do anything different to the car this year?
FA: The biggest difference in the car is the change of tire. We've now gone to Nexen tire, they come in a superb tire that's super grippy. The best tire I've ever been on. But now we're facing new challenges. We've got to set up the car for these tires and it takes everything in terms of power and drivability to spin these things. But it's a good problem to have. We have a way better car this year than last year. It's just learning to drive again.
SS: Chris you're in the lead in terms of points. What's going on through your mind going into the final fight?
CB: We're just treating this event like any other and going through the paces like we would go through every practice-make sure the car is good, try different setups, make sure we're good for qualifying, good for tandem. We run slightly different setups for both. Everyone is on point and the car is feeling good. We're just taking our time.
SS: Tell us about your experience during this year's Formula D season.
CB: The year has been fantastic. We've been on the podium the past six rounds. Only to beat our record from '14 to last time I won the championship with five rounds consecutively. We're just trying to keep that same momentum going into this final round. I'm just trying to stay calm and collected. You can't think too much about it.
SS: How do you prepare yourself physically and mentally before a race?
CB: Physically before a race I try to do a lot of cycling. I try to stay athletic and fit. It's actually more taxing in the car than what people think. We're really hustling in the car. The adrenaline going up and down all throughout the day will really take a toll on you. So you have to have good endurance to be able to last throughout the day. Mentally, like I said, is being able to focus when the time is right and switch on when you have to. That's the key to winning a championship and winning events. Most drivers will get in a car and white knuckle the car, overstressing about the run. You have to be able to block out everything else that's happening around you and go out and know that the only thing that matters is putting down that perfect run.