|Justin Pawlak took out his Drift Alliance running mate Ryan Tuerck in the Top 16.|
The Road to the Championship has thus far been good to Gittin, Qualifying, Top 32, and in the Top 16, he seemed to be on his game again. However, there was a stop sign by the name of Daijiro Yoshihara and he could only go one of two ways. To the left; despair, loss, and the possibility of becoming repeat champion gone or at least very slim. To the right; hope, win, and becoming a real threat to the championship again. Gittin had control of most of his fate, but the three Judges would also come into play, like police officers waiting to see what he would do. Would he roll through and give Dai the win? Would he stop, but blow through the check point by putting his tires off course? Would he do everything right, but make the wrong turn?
|We were rooting for rookie Walker Wilkerson but his little SR20DET was no match for Toshiki Yoshioka’s supercharged LS3 Power.|
Dai would lead first, Vaughn on his tail and staying with him through 10a. At 10b, Dai had a small gap, but JR closed it into the horseshoe. Vaughn kept the gap the same though horseshoe, but then, it happened. Coming out of the horseshoe, his car wouldn’t grab a gear making Vaughn straighten up and lose drift. He just blew through the checkpoint, but would the officer give him a warning? Dai continued on, greatly increasing the gap and decisively gaining the advantage.
|Pat Mordaunt’s 350Z had some sort of engine failure followed by a fire during his bye run. Ken Gushi had driveline problems and could not pull to the line. All Pat had to do was complete an easy solo run to advance but hard luck struck taking him out and allowing Yoshioka to advance without a fight in the next round.|
JR would now need something to happen to Dai. A tire off or a large bobble by Dai would lead to a OMT, a spin or going off course would possibly give Gittin the win. Now it was Vaughn’s turn to lead, would he get the warning and continue on, or would this stop JR? Vaughn began to gap Yoshihara from 10a to the entrance of the horseshoe, but Dai caught up. Dai’s speed all weekend was hard to beat! The Mustang poured out the tire smoke like it was a chain smoker, Vaughn hadn’t given up, he couldn’t. He wanted to repeat! He wanted to keep his hopes alive, he was hungry. The wait seemed long and intense, Vaughn’s year hung on this decision. Would he get it? Could he count on his Drift Alliance connection? Could he count on the money from Monster Energy and Ford? Would the mega dollar pride of the ASD fleet best the lower buck but well engineered SPD S13? Would Falken have an influence? No. None of that mattered as Jarod Deanda announced that Dai Yoshihara had been declared the winner and moved on to the Final Four. With only 63 points so far this year, his chances were now very dark.
|Chris Forsberg spun and gave John Russakoff a win boosting him up to the final 4.|
Next was Darren McNamara and Justin Pawlak. JTP, would follow McNamara first and he was on a good streak. Coming off a win at Long Beach, his car being put back together in time, qualifying well despite the carnage, and taking out the number two qualifier, he had a great weekend going. He was facing McNamara, though. McNamara was no slouch, A European champion and coming off two top 5 Championship standings, he is not someone to be taken lightly.
|Every battle between Dai Yoshihara and Vaughn Gittin Jr promises to be a good one and this one was no exception. A misshift by Jr gave Dai an easy win. Perhaps without the misshift Jr might have drove it to a OMT and a different result.|