Part 3 in our series profiling the 2012 FD Championship contenders brings us to defending 2011 series champion Dai Yoshihara. Once again, Jacob Leveton did the difficult arithmetic for us.
|1. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
|2. Daigo Saito
|3. Rhys Millen
|4. Justin Pawlak
|5. Dai Yoshihara
|6. Freddy Aasbo
|7. Ryan Tuerck
Dai’s championship scenario’s are only marginally improved on Aasbo’s scenarios. A top 16 appearance by Gittin Jr still eliminates Dai (473 points + 54 tandem points = 527 points where Dai could only have a best of 513.5 with a win and a #1 qualifying effort), and a top 32 appearance by JR (497 points) still requires Dai to finish in 2nd place + 1st / 2nd / 3rd qualifier (401.5 points + 88 tandem points + 12 / 10 / 8 qualifying points = 501.5 / 499.5 / 497.5 points), or win the event (401.5 points + 100 tandem points = 501.5 points + qualifying) as well as JR to qualify much lower than he has been. In addition, Saito making top 16 gives him no less than 501.75 points, which means Dai can finish ahead of him only by winning the event and earning more qualifying points than Saito.
If JR doesn’t qualify and Saito also exits in top 32, Dai will need to earn more than 71.5 points overall to pass them both. A podium would earn him enough, while a fourth-place finish and a better-than 10th qualifying effort would also do the trick. A top-8 finish with a top qualifier award would get him there too, but anything less than that would not be enough to overcome JR. If Millen tandems into the top 16, his point total (428.25 + 54 tandem points + qualifying = 482.25 points) would then require a third-place finish and a high qualifying effort, or a second or first place finish to overcome his former boss. Dai has won at Irwindale in the past in 2006, but has only progressed past the top 16 once in the past four years.
Just one year removed from winning both the 2011 FD Championship and the Tires.com Triple Crown, Dai was easily a favorite entering the 2012 season in the same chassis with the same crew as 2011. A podium at Long Beach kept him as a front runner, but a top 32 exit in Atlanta left him with a long hill to climb. Podium results in West Palm Beach and New Jersey have helped his cause, but back-to-back championships look unlikely. Unless Dai were to pull off the win at Irwindale, this season would mark the first since 2009 for Dai without an event win. That season was the one that Dai started in the Discount Tire Lexus before it was totaled in Seattle, and Dai moved into the V8-powered S13 just 12 short days later.
Summary: Dai 2nd + Dai 1/2/3 qualifier + JR Top 32 + JR low qualify + Saito top 32 finish… or Dai Win + JR Top 32 + Saito Top 32… or Dai Podium + JR Not Qualify + Saito top 32 or not qualify + Rhys top 16 or worse