You saw our pre event Pit Notes that we posted yesterday which you can find here if you want to look back at what we said before the event started. If I would of known earlier Patrick Mordaunt was in his S14 he would of ranked probably on the top of my Hot Property List. Here is a breakdown of the Top 32 battles and what I feel about the drivers and possibly the tandem battle for today’s main event. Here is a breakdown of these Top 32 tandem battles in the driver in them.
Tanner Foust Vs. Matt Waldin
This is technically a battle of North American Drifting champions since Matt Waldin has won DMCC and Tanner is a two time Formula Drift champion. I don’t think Matt Waldin’s Nissan 350z is really a match for the NASCAR V8 but greater upsets have happened in time. Fantasy wise if you have Matt Waldin then a One More Time is probably going to be your best bet to score some points. My prediction is that Tanner Foust advances.
Ryan Tuerck Vs. Dennis Mertzanis
I told the world on the Live Drift Stream that Dennis would take out Vaughn in the Top 32 at Long Beach which didn’t happen and I really don’t think he stands a chance against Ryan Tuerck. Ryan has more control against slower drivers and is a tandem machine. Maxxis Tires always seem to thrive here as history tells us as well. My prediction is that Ryan Tuerck advances.
Conrad Grunewald Vs. Forrest Wang
Even though these guys qualified so far from each other I don’t want to declare a winner in this match. Conrad was eliminated early at Long Beach and the car just doesn’t seem to tandem as well as he can qualify. Forrest Wang has great talent but his Infiniti G35 seems to be a handicap. The car doesn’t seem to work 100% and there is no telling what he will get when the event starts. This is a Fantasy Drift wild card which you don’t want to miss on the live steam or in person.
Daijiro Yoshihara Vs. “Mad Mike” Whidett
Mad Mike qualified in his first Formula Drift event but I don’t think he is any match for Daijiro Yoshihara. If you watched him drive that S13 he was looking like the Daijiro Yoshihara of old and not the one we saw drive in 2009. This leads me to believe he could go far this weekend. He has also made podium in Atlanta before. My prediction is that Daijiro Yoshihara advances.
Rhys Millen Vs. Cody Parkhouse
Rhys Millen has been on fire this year so I think Cody Parkhouse is going to have a big problem on his hand. It’s hard to keep up with Rhys on this track as well with his shallow angle style he runs here that caused much controversy when he beat Bill Sherman a few years back. My prediction is that Rhys Millen advances.
Michael Essa Vs. Stephan Verdier
I love Michael Essa’s huge insane entry as he came down the hill but I question the cars ability to tandem. The car still appears to have a lack of grip and we haven’t seen this BMW 350R compete in tandem competition yet. While Essa is on my Fantasy Team I just think Stephan Verdier has the upper hand. For crying out loud Iron Man 2 came out yesterday so we have to get Stephan some secret forces behind him. My prediction is that Stephan Verdier advances.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. Vs. Michihiro Takatori
Takatori didn’t look all that overwhelming during qualifying or practice and Vaughn Gittin Jr. just seems to be unstoppable after Streets of Long Beach. My prediction is that Vaughn Gittin Jr. advances.
Chris Forsberg Vs. Cyrus Martinez
I don’t want to discredit the rookie Cyrus Martinez here like most of you have already done but Forsberg is going to win this round. Cyrus looks great and if he drew anyone else other than a the only two time winner here I would give him a chance but I just don’t see this one happening. My prediction is that Chris Forsberg advances.
Doug Van Den Brink Vs. Sam Hubinette
Sam Hubinette just seems to have his hands full with the Dodge Challenger this weekend. Right before I wrote this he got towed back to the pits when it looked like the car just did a simple wheel drop. I am going to take a huge risk here with seeing that and predict the southeastern local Doug Van Den Brink takes home the win. A huge statement but mine as well make a bold statement in here, I feel like a ton of these predictions are a tad vanilla. My prediction is that Doug Van Den Brink advances.
Joon Maeng Vs. Dean Kearney
Neither of these guys have done fantastic lately but I am going to favor Joon Maeng in the Full Tilt Poker Mazda Rx-8. Dean Kearney is in a great S14 no question but it just seems suffer constant mechanical issues which means you cannot count on that. Joon has done well here before and could use this event to booster him for the rest of the season. My prediction is that Joon Maeng advances.
Robbie Nishida Vs. Matt Powers
This is another tough one based on car reliability issues. I would of picked Matt Powers before his accident at night practice but now he has me a little nervous in selecting him. Robbie Nishida has a fantastic machine but no seat time in it. He already put it in the pea gravel and had a wreck tow off with it this weekend as well. This is going to be a survival of the fittest more than a tandem battle I predict.
Darren McNamara Vs. Taka Aono
This is quite a matchup since Taka has had some legendary battles in his Corolla here before. Remember the tandem battles between Taka Aono and Sam Hubinette that brought in the One More Time Rule to the sport? Yea, pretty epic but I have Darren McNamara going all the way this weekend to finally win here so sorry Taka. My prediction is that Darren McNamara goes all the way.
Tyler McQuarrie Vs. Patrick Mordaunt
I picked both of these guys in my pre event notes to do really well but with Patrick showing up in his S14 I give him a slight advantage. Something about Patrick in this track that I just don’t see him being able to lose to Tyler. I know Tyler was already mad at me for saying he would lose to Darren McNamara before these were fixed but he is just caught up in a tough part of the grid. Patrick is just focused and Road Atlanta seems to be his home away from home.
Justin Pawlak Vs. Ryuji Miki
The RTR Ford Mustang seems to be giving Justin Pawlak some troubles so I am nervous to select him as a winner. Ryuji Miki historically isn’t great at qualifying and can just set the world on fire when it comes to tandem drifting. I am going for the underdog here with Ryuji Miki.
Kyle Mohan Vs. Ross Petty
Another tough choice is with these guys against each other plus the genuine unpredictable nature of Ross Petty in tandem. For some reason I feel like Kyle Mohan is focused and on fire right now so I am going to give him the advance.
Charles Ng Vs. Ken Gushi
Charles Ng has put some impressive runs down and is seemingly hungry just to get professional level seat time. He was even running at Formula Drift Singapore last month in a borrowed car to get out there in the industry more. Even with that said Ken Gushi is just under rated in the public eye for some reason these days. The Scion Racing team seems to have things figured out in 2010 so my prediction is that Ken Gushi advances.
***5/8/2010 at 12:11pm EDIT: Tyler McQuarrie and Taka Aono had the same score in qualifying along with Doug Van Den Brink and Cyrus Martinez. We just updated our qualifying list to represent Tyler McQuarrie in 20th and Taka Aono in 21st. They also did the same thing with 24th Dough Van Den Brink and Cyrus Martinez in 25th. Our list came from the live feed which was unofficial and it appears Tyler moved in front. This changes those tandem battles which we are editing now and updating before Top 32. Sorry for the confusion and delay on figuring this out.