|While Daigo Saito can be looked at as a veteran of Drifting; he is a Rookie in Formula Drift. He's only had two oval runs this year, but has been to Irwindale with D1 4 times, but only scored points once. While there are no ovals in the D1 series, his average from the two he has seen in Formula Drift is 61.5, but that is only two events so far. He placed 4th at New Jersey and only made Great 8 in Seattle. He has the second best average, but each oval he has placed worse and his performance to this point has not been as stellar since Palm Beach.
|What a drive! 2012 did not start well for Vaughn Gittin, JR, but has he made up for it! He was once in 6th place at Palm Beach, now leading the points into Irwindale. He has the best finish at the “House Of Drift” of the top 5 with a win in 2008. His worst performance was 2011 with only a Top 32 appearance. However, his average at Irwindale is 64.2, which is also the best of the Top 5. His performance, his average, and having won Irwindale before makes JR the favorite. With rumors of ASD leaving Team Falken in 2013, could he leave the 2012 season with a Championship as a Farewell to Falken? It's his to lose, honestly, but you can't argue with past performance to a degree.
So, who takes it in 2012? Here is how I will look at it. The great story to end with is Rhys Millen, he'll have the comeback of 2012 and would end Hyundai's run in Formula Drift with a Championship and a record at Pikes Peak. You couldn't ask for a better swan song! However, you do have Daigo Saigo, who comes to Formula Drift as a Rookie despite his D1 experience. To take Rookie of the Year and the Championship has not been matched by anyone. Well, unless you count the inaugural season of Formula Drift where everyone was a Rookie. I don't, but could you really count Daigo as a Rookie? Many don't and have good reason to, but he is a newbie according to the rules.
|Daijiro Yoshihara, the People's Champion. He has the belt to prove it! It would be a bitter pill to swallow after just winning the championship last year and starting strong in 2012. However, poor performance means poor results and the championship is slipping away more and more. Justin Pawlak is in the same boat. Grand performance at the start of this year only to start slipping back with Dai. He just lost the championship last year and to lose it again this year will be depressing, to say the least.
|Finally, Vaughn Gittin, Jr. He lost the championship last year like the stock market crash. He really looked like he wasn't in the hunt early this year, but outstanding performance has allowed him to come back and lead this championship. His performance at Irwindale pretty much can set him in stone for the 2012 Championship. This is drifting, though, and absolutely nothing is written in stone for good reason. You can't predict how a car is going to act once sideways. You have an idea, you have expectations, but until you actually go out there, you don't have a clue. He could crash out in qualifying or in Top 32 and lose this championship because of it. However, he could get maximum points and take this by Top 16 or Great 8. Until it's run, we don't know, but I have a strong bet on a car running four wheels and that's the best you'll get out of me!