Formula Drift Round 3: Palm Beach International Raceway


Forsberg and McQuarrie
Forsberg and McQuarrie going at it in the Great 8.

The first battle of the Great 8 was Tyler McQuarrie and Chris Forsberg. The NOS Energy 370Z would lead first and initiate hard into the first clipping point. From that point on, Chris Forsberg would create a gap against the Falken Tire 350Z. As Tyler now lead, Forsberg showed that he was the driver that would be on fire the whole day and take the win into the Final Four. Next up would be the battle of two age old foes, Vaughn Gittin, Jr. in his Monster Energy Mustang and Rhys Millen in his Red Bull Genesis. The energy was flying and the two drink companies did battle on the course with JR leading first. Vaughn began to gap Rhys in the first clipping point, but then Rhys hit the madness button and began to tear through the course first hitting the second clipping point, then hitting the barricade at the finish line getting the left front wheel some air time! While this was exciting, the line that JR put on gave him the advantage and even more so after seeing Rhys hit parts of the course. With Rhys in the lead, Vaughn kept his composure while Rhys continued to use his rallycross skills to get air on the last turn. With those mistakes made by Rhys, Vaughn Gittin, Jr. got the win and continued on to the Final Four.

Rhys VS Vaughn
While it was impressive, Rhys’ “Bo Duke” style wasn’t able to surpass Vaughn Gittin Jr.

Next up was the GM tandem of the Hankook Tires Chevy Camaro of Conrad Grunewald and the Falken Tires Saturn Sky of Darren McNamara. Both drivers put on a great run and the Judges couldn’t pick a winner, so a OMT was called and they went again. On the OMT run with Darren leading first, there was a mix up and D-Mac jumped the start. In the driver’s meeting, it was discussed that if something like this were to happen, they would re-run so long as the other driver stayed put. If Grunewald left, the error could have been on Grunewald if he couldn’t have gotten closer to Darren. They wanted the drivers to get to the first clipping point at the same time or a little staggered. When D-Mac rejoined, they ran again, and Darren was able to gap Conrad and gain the advantage. With Conrad now leading he initiated too hard and lost control of his car and ended up sliding out into the inner portion of the track. Doing so gave full advantage to Darren and he was going to the Final Four!

Grunwald going too hard
Conrad Grunewald had entered too aggressively.

The final pairing of the Great 8 was Justin Pawlak of Falken Tire and Matt Powers of Team Need for Speed. In this repeat of the finals at Long Beach, would the out come be any different? Would Matt Powers take the win over JTP? Pawlak lead first and initiated into the first clipping point earlier than Powers. Powers gave chase and kept it close through the course, but hit the second clipping point. By the final clipping point, JTP opened up a gap on Powers giving JTP the edge. Matt’s lead run was clean, but it wasn’t enough to beat JTP and Matt has now lost to Pawlak in the two times they have met.

Matt Powers
This was as close as the Drift Party Train got, Matt Powers was defeated by Justin Pawlak.

With that, the Final Four was set and was a reflection of the top four in qualifying, number one seed, Forsberg, number two seed, McNamara, number three seed, Pawlak, and number four seed and 2010 champion, Gittin, Jr. With JTP making it to the Final Four, Dai now slid into 3rd place in points. Vaughn Gittin, Jr. was making good on his promise of an epic comeback, and JTP was doing his best to try and get win number two for 2011 and win two of his career.

Don't Ask!
For the love of Pete, don’t ask!


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