Justin Pawlak

Tony Cisneros Misses Top 16 at Top Drift After 4 Controversial Qualifying Runs

Tony Cisneros is a husband, a father of four, a youth pastor, and a self-employed entrepreneur. Cisneros also drove himself into earning a Formula Drift (FD) Pro License with his 700 hp LS2 s14 equipped with a 4-speed dog box transmission.

If you have been keeping up with the Top Drift series this year, you may have noticed that Cisneros was in first place after the first three rounds, with second place 17 points behind him. At the end of the series, Cisneros finished third overall and earned his pro FD license. Great news, right? Well, the way it went down wasn’t so great.

During qualifying, Cisneros put down two seemingly high qualifying runs that left the audience in awe. A while after he had pulled off the track, a Just Drift (JD) worker requested that Cisneros return to the grid. Upon arrival, they instructed him to go out for another run, but was told nothing else. On this run, Cisneros spun out (something he hadn’t done all weekend). At the end of the lap, a JD worker instructed him to take another lap. Cisneros spun again, on what he thought was a free run. Later, him and his team noticed that there was an oil spill on the part of the track in which he had spun both times. Extremely confused as to why he had been given four runs, Cisneros made his way over the the judges to inquire. The judges informed him that his initial runs were not counted because an inner cone was missing on the course when he had laid down the first two amazing runs. Only after he had earned zeros on the latter runs, he was told that his first two runs would not count, but his second two runs would be counted as his qualifying runs. Cisneros said, “This really took a lot out of me and saw all our hard work going down the drain fast for something I couldn’t control…” Unfortunately, Cisneros failed to qualify and spent the rest of the evening dealing with accusations of him cheating and simply sitting with his family and team looking somewhat defeated.

Watch the qualifying run that wasn’t counted, here:

Cisneros was not the only driver who experienced the short end of the stick. Ryan Litteral (placed 2nd at the event and 5th in the series) was also granted an additional qualifying run. Another source who was on track during the event claimed Justin Pawlak (who was a judge at the event) angrily made his way to to JD worker and expressed a significant amount of dismay because they had not set up the track correctly after a car had knocked down one of the cones. Pawlak, as an advocate for the drivers, was passionate about this issue because he thought it would mess up the odds; and he was right.

Some people may not find this to be a big issues because Cisneros ultimately earned his FD license. However, when you factor in performance requirements and awards with sponsors, it can be a big deal. Those who compete, usually go in with the full intention of winning, not settling with second or third. Although there is no way to know for sure if Cisneros would have ended up in first place even if his initial qualifying runs were considered, he was nonetheless robbed of the opportunity to win. Perhaps if there was better communication at the event (between the judges and the JD workers), or even if Cisneros knew what the situations was before his second set of qualifying runs, this could have been avoided. It is just unfortunate the most of the spectators were extremely confused because there was no PA system at the event that announced scores or judging calls.

I had the opportunity to chat with Cisneros over the past few days and he has gone through an incredible journey. Check out some parts of our conversation:

Q: Formula D next year? What should we expect?

A: “Yes, we are gonna enter Formula D next year. Our plan as of right now is to run the entire season. You can expect us to charge hard, do things professionally, taking this opportunity very seriously, realizing not everyone gets to be able to have this chance to do something you dream about doing.”

Q: Any changes to the car for next year?

A: “The car right now will get new aero kit, colors will most likely change depending on sponsors/partners. Motor and power should stay the same. We are looking into options for more forward grip, but other than that just refreshed inside and out. Looking ready to rumble in FD.”

Q: What has been the biggest struggle getting to this point?

A: “Our biggest struggle has been working out the little bugs that really killed our season last year. This year everything was great, but it almost didn’t happen. I was extremely frustrated and wasn’t sure this was meant to be for me. But as it would happen, we started this season well and the rest is history now. Learning a new car was very hard, also to break old habits from our previous build in the GTO, which was a lot heavier and harder to drive. Trust that this car was gonna do everything I wanted it to took a little time for me.”

Q: Describe your journey in becoming a licensed FD driver in three words.

A: “A dream, exciting, reality.”

Q: Who is your drift idol/hero? Why?

A: “Really the person I look up to is a guy I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for a [while now] is Odi [Backchis]. What he has done in Formula D in 3 years is awesome. He’s in the top 10 in standings right now and charging to the top. He’s super down-to-earth and is down to give anyone a hand and share his knowledge with you if you ask. I [couldn’t] be happier for him and am honored to call him a friend.”

Q: What advice do you have to offer for for all the aspiring drifters out there?

A: “Car commitment!!!! Start off small…Get your car control down. To jump into a v8 right away will give [you] bad habits and as you go on in competitions you need to have the basics and car control down. Keep it simple and keep drifting fun!!!! If you decide to go for the next level, commit to it and practice practice!!”

Q: You have a wife, kids, and a full-time job. How did you manage to balance it all?

A: “Don’t forget youth pastor…Lol..Yeah with all we have gone through this last year also, I believe that if you keep the important things first that all the other things fall into place. And that is exactly what happened this year. Everything fell right into place. And if Formula D is in my future, I believe that will fall into place also.”

Cisneros’ Sponsors: DMA Performance, Godspeed Project, Feal Suspension, Dailey Visuals, Reef Fire Systems, FR Sports, Drive Energy, Dry Down.

Darren McNamara is the best qualifying driver through 5 rounds of 2013 [STANDINGS]

With the long layoff between Seattle and Texas, we have to do something to keep us entertained. After last week’s look at the rookie standings, we decided to dive into the qualifying points as we did last year around this time.

For the first time in years, Darren McNamara is atop the charts. McNamara has been known as a driver who tends to drive better in tandem than in qualifying, but this year seems to be quite different. As the only driver who has been one of the top two qualifiers in three of the five rounds (1st in Seattle, 2nd in Long Beach and New Jersey), McNamara has stood out in the new qualifying format. His Falken Tire teammate Justin Pawlak is 2nd with two top qualifier awards (Palm Beach and New Jersey), while Aasbo has a top qualifier position (Atlanta), 2nd qualifier (Seattle) and a 3rd qualifier (New Jersey) that put him in third in the overall qualifying standings.

The other driver to earn a top qualifier position is Dai Yoshihara, who hit the top spot in Long Beach but has struggled since, qualifying 6th in Palm Beach but outside of the top 10 in all other rounds. Last year’s leader at this time was Vaughn Gittin Jr, who has dropped to 9th in this year’s standings. Comparing this list to the overall points standings after 5 rounds, there’s quite a substantial difference, showing that qualifying is less important than in years past. Forsberg, who is currently leading the championship race, is only the ninth-best qualifier.

Here’s a look at the top 20 of the qualifying standings according to our points table. NOTE: This is based on the number of qualifying points earned, not the average qualifying position.

UPDATED on August 21st to reflect qualifying penalties for Tuerck and Saito

LB Qual ATL Qual PB Qual NJ Qual SEA Qual Total
1 McNamara 10 4 0.5 10 12 36.5
2 Pawlak 0.5 8 12 12 2 34.5
3 Aasbo 2 12 0.5 8 10 32.5
4 Essa 8 10 0.5 1 2 21.5
5 Saito 3 4 8 4 0 19
6 Yoshihara 12 1 4 0.25 1 18.25
7 Moen 4 1 10 2 0.5 17.5
8 Forsberg 1 2 6 6 2 17
8 Gittin 4 2 3 2 6 17
10 DeNofa 6 6 1 2 0.5 15.5
11 Field 0.5 3 2 0.5 8 14
12 Bakchis 2 2 0.5 0.5 4 9
13 Powers 1 3 0 0.5 4 8.5
14 Grunewald 0 0.5 2 3 2 7.5
15 McQuarrie 0.25 0 0.25 4 1 5.5
16 Aono 2 0.5 2 0.25 0.5
5.25
18 Tuerck 3 0.5 1 0.5 0 5
18 Nishida 0.5 0.5 0.5 3 0.5 5
19 Kado 1 0 0.25 0.5 3 4.75
20 Wang 2 2 0.5 0 0 4.5

A Look at Justin Pawlak from Formula Drift Seattle [VIDEO]

LORENinHD produced one awesome video following around Justin Pawlak in his 2014 Ford Mustang. It is one awesome video piece showing off Justin Pawlak and his battle to finally capture a championship with this 2013 season. His new program has been steaming along pretty well as the lone Ford Mustang under the Falken Tire umbrella.

2013 Formula Drift Round 5 – Seattle – Manufacturers Championship [STANDINGS]

With a pair of top 8 finishes for Justin Pawlak and Vaughn Gittin Jr, Ford takes over sole control of first place in the OEM Manufacturer’s standings, with Lexus dropping to third. Nissan moved into second thanks to the win from Forsberg and a top-16 showing from Kado. Scion and BMW round out the top five, with Chevy, Toyota, and Mazda maintaining their position. Subaru and Hyundai both jumped ahead of Dodge thanks to the first top-16 appearances of the season from both brands behind Yoshioka (Subaru) and Mertzanis (Hyundai).

Here’s the current standings after 5 rounds:

1. Ford – 712.5 points
2. Nissan – 683.5 points
3. Lexus – 668.25 points
4. Scion – 645.5 points
5. BMW – 597 points
6. Chevy – 429 points
7. Toyota – 201.75 points
8. Mazda – 160.5 points
9. Subaru – 106 points
10. Hyundai – 79.25 points
11. Dodge – 49.25 points

2013 Formula Drift Round 5 – Seattle – Tire Manufacturer Championship [STANDINGS]

Despite a big crash from Justin Pawlak in the Top 8 and a similar exit in the top 8 from Darren McNamara, Falken Tire remains in the lead of the tire championship although their lead has decreased substantially. Hankook has jumped into second place behind a double-podium finish, while Achilles falls to third place behind Saito’s unexpected top-32 exit. Yokohama has jumped into fifth place, while Maxxis falls to seventh.

Here are the standings after five events:

1. Falken – 776
2. Hankook  – 742.5
3. Achilles– 671.25
4. Nitto – 645
5. Yokohama – 522.5
6. Nexen – 517.75
7. Maxxis – 490.5
8. Kenda – 79.25

2013 Formula Drift Championship Points After Round 5 [RESULTS]

Wow, a huge turn of events for Chris Forsberg in his Nissan 370z this weekend jumped him from fifth to first in the championship today. Assisted with a huge screw up by Daigo Saito in Top 32. Vaughn exited in the great 8 putting him behind in points as well. The championship points are insane right now and now the next round is way too far away at a brand new track setup in Fort Worth, Texas at a famous NASCAR track Texas Motor Speedway.

UPDATED on August 21st to reflect qualifying penalties for Tuerck / Saito

UPDATED on September 4th to reflect penalties for Vaughn Gittin Jr

Here is how the unofficial points stand now:

1. Chris Forsberg – 388
2. Michael Essa – 386.50
3. Daigo Saito – 385
4. Fredric Aasbo – 354.50
5. Justin Pawlak – 345.50
6. Vaughn Gittin Jr. – 337
7. Darren McNamara – 332.50
8. Odi Bakchis – 294
9. Matt Field – 261
10. Robbie Nishida – 253
11. Dai Yoshihara – 244.25
12. Kenneth Moen – 234.50
13. Conrad Grunewald – 230.50
14. Ryan Tuerck – 229
15. Chelsea DeNofa – 210.50
16. Matt Powers – 201.50
17. Tyler McQuarrie – 198.50
18. Ryan Kado – 160.75
19. Danny George – 152.75
20. Ken Gushi – 141.50

2013 Formula Drift Round 5 at Evergreen Speedway Qualifying [RESULTS]

Darren McNamara took down first place with a solid qualifying pass while tons of big names scored a 0 on the first run setting them to the back of the grid such as Ryan Tuerck, Daigo Saito, Kenneth Moen, and Robbie Nishida. A notable absence is Kyle Mohan who had steering rack issues and failed to qualify. Here is how the Top 32 wound up:

1. Darren McNamara
2. Fredric Aasbo
3. Matt Field
4. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
5. Odi Bakchis
6. Matt Powers
7. Toshiki Yoshioka
8. Ryan Kado
9. Michael Essa
10. Justin Pawlak
11. Chris Forsberg
12. Conrad Grunewald
13. Dennis Mertzanis
14. Dai Yoshihara
15. Tyler McQuarrie
16. Ken Gushi
17. Chelsea DeNofa
18. Kenneth Moen
19. Robbie Nishida
20. Taka Aono
21. Joon Maeng
22. Miro Ovcharik
23. Ryan Tuerck
24. Pat Goodin
25. Danny George
26. Daigo Saito
27. Jeff Jones
28. Tony Angelo
29. Chris Jeanneret
30. Pat Mordaunt
31. Jhnotthan Castro
32. Brandon Wicknick

Top 32 Tandem Battles:
Darren McNamara vs. Brandon Wicknick
Ken Gushi vs. Chelsea DeNofa
Ryan Kado vs. Danny George
Michael Essa vs. Pat Goodin
Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. Chris Jeanneret
Dennis Mertzanis vs. Taka Aono
Odi Bakchis vs. Tony Angelo
Conrad Grunewald vs. Joon Maeng
Fredric Aasbo vs. Jhonnthan Castro
Tyler McQuarrie vs. Kenneth Moen
Toshiki Yoshioka vs. Daigo Saito
Justin Pawlak vs. Ryan Tuerck
Matt Field vs. Patrick Mordaunt
Dai Yoshihara vs. Robbie Nishida
Matt Powers vs. Jeff Jones
Chris Forsberg vs. Miro Ovcharik

Justin Pawlak – Battle Tested from DailyMotion [VIDEO]


Justin Pawlak has turned one horrible season into one that is breathing life and hope for a top finish. He narrowly avoided a 0 point Long Beach weekend after crashing hard on his first pass but somehow with the help of his team recovered and make a second qualifying run securing him some serious points for the weekend. Well after a stellar performance and second place finish at Wall Speedway the guys from DailyMotion turned the camera to JTP and interviewed his fellow drivers to talk about what they think of Justin Pawlak. Can he keep the momentum going and hold out for another championship run? Justin is currently 79 points out of first right now sitting in fifth place just behind Chris Forsberg. With three big rounds left he needs to score 26.4 points higher than everyone else ahead of him to secure his first championship. 

Sweet Motion Films x AMENIC7 Make a Formula D Wall Speedway [VIDEO]


A Wall Speedway video with Sweet Motion Films and AMENIC7 put together a great piece about the Round 4 Formula Drift weekend at Wall Speedway. The video shows some in car of Chris Forsberg and some of the better tandem battles go down at Wall including Conrad v. JTP and Michael Essa v. Forsberg. Check out the three and a half minute video piece.

 

Watch the video: http://vimeo.com/69129778

 

Is Speed a Big Qualifying Factor in Formula Drift?

One question about Formula Drift  I have been asking myself in 2013 is how much is speed a factor in qualifying results in Formula Drift? We have the unique element in drifting of staging 500hp cars versus 1,400hp cars on the same stage set to compete. In just about every other motorsport these two cars competing would basically be impossible or a waste of time yet Formula Drift can make it work.

Here are the Top 35 speed scores with a correlation of how they ended up qualifying for the Wall weekend. I realize this is an odd track of sorts but the scoring sure doesn’t seem to line up with qualifying points. Speed is of course a factor in the overall scoring system Formula Drift uses but I was very curious to know if the faster cars got some play or favoritism just by looking fast. It sure didn’t end up looking that way. In case you lack familiarity with how the qualifying system works here is something taken directly from Formula Drift:

A. Qualifying Scoring

In qualifying, each judge will be assigned to a criterion: Line, Angle, or Style. Line is worth 25 points. Angle is worth 25 points. Style is worth 40 points, of which the Line and Angle judges can contribute 0 through 5 points each to the 40 point total. The Speed category is worth either 0 through 10 points and is measured at a specific point on the course for each event. The judges will determine the median speed for qualifying. Driver will receive 5 points for achieving the median speed set by the judges. For every 1/10th of a mile per hour achieved by the driver above the minimum speed set by the judges, the driver will receive 1/10th of a point up to a maximum of 10 total points. No points above a total of 10 will given for speeds exceeding the speed scoring range. For every 1/10th of a mile the driver misses the median speed by, 1/10th of a point will be deducted from the possible 5 point median score, down to a minimum score of 0 points. Negative scores will not be given. The Line, Angle and the Style judges may award points in one (1) point increments or whole numbers for their specific criterion.

As we logged all the data it was interesting to see only about a 7mph gap in the cars from first to last place.   While speed is a big topic among drivers and the sporting regulations include things such as a “pace cone” it seems the variance issues in qualifying are not that high. One thought I have is with the new knockout style qualifying format which was announced in February and rolled out here at Long Beach is forcing some of the top drivers to leave quite a bit on the table and put down conservative qualifying runs to place in the event on the first round instead of going all out for glory in previous seasons. That is strategy and racing though. If we get some interest in this post I will log and do this speed analysis again at Evergreen Speedway.

Qualifying List in Order by Speed
1. Chelsea DeNofa – 54.2 MPH (Qualified 9th)
2. Matt Field – 54.1 MPH (Qualified 19th)
3. Fredric Aasbo – 53.4 MPH (Qualified 3rd)
4. Daigo Saito – 52.5 MPH (Qualified 6th)
5. Ryan Kado – 50.2 MPH (Qualified 17th)
6. Justin Pawlak – 49 MPH (Qualified 1st)
7. Michael Essa – 49 MPH (Qualified 13th)
8. Miro Ovcharik – 48.6 MPH (Qualified 25th)
9. Matt Powers – 48.6 MPH (Qualified 24th)
10. Nate Hamilton – 48.2 MPH (Qualified 32nd)
11. Robbie Nishida – 48.2 MPH (Qualified 7th)
12. Brandon Wicknick – 48.1 MPH
13. Jhonnattan Castro – 48.1 MPH (Qualified 14th)
14. Chris Ward – 48.1 MPH (Qualified 20th)
15. Dai Yoshihara – 47.9 MPH (Qualified 30th)
16. Taka Aono – 47.8 MPH (Qualified 27th)
17. Marc Landerville – 47.3 MPH (Qualified 21st)
18. Ryan Tuerck – 47.1 MPH (Qualified 18th)
19. Pat Goodin – 47 MPH (Qualified 31st)
20. Kenneth Moen – 47 MPH (Qualified 10th)
21. Danny George – 46.9 MPH (Qualified 16th)
22. Joshua Steele – 46.8 MPH
23. Ken Gushi – 46.8 MPH (Qualified 22nd)
24. Ryan Kado – 46.5 MPH (Qualified 17th)
25. Corey Hosford – 46.4 MPH (Qualified 26th)
26. Chris Forsberg – 46.3 MPH (Qualified 4th)
27. Carl Rydquist – 46.2 MPH (Qualified 29th)
28. Kyle Mohan – 46.2 MPH (Qualified 12th)
29. Jeff Jones – 46.1 MPH (Qualified 28th)
30. Dean Kearney – 46.1 MPH (Qualified 15th)
31. Forrest Wang – 46.1 MPH
32. Vaughn Gittin Jr. – 46.1 MPH (Qualified 11th)
33. Tyler McQuarrie – 45.9 MPH (Qualified 5th)
34. Odi Bakchis – 45.8 MPH (Qualified 23rd)
35. Darren McNamara – 45.4 MPH (Qualified 2nd)