Part 4 in our series profiles Falken Tire driver Justin Pawlak. After jumping out to an early lead, Pawlak has been watching his championship chances fade away over the past few rounds. Jacob Leveton gave us all the numbers to make this post possible.
|1. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
|2. Daigo Saito
|3. Rhys Millen
|4. Justin Pawlak
|5. Dai Yoshihara
|6. Freddy Aasbo
|7. Ryan Tuerck
Sitting only 1.5 points ahead of Dai Yoshihara, nearly all the math from Dai’s scenario applies to Pawlak. A top 16 from JR still eliminates Pawlak, and a top 16 from Saito requires nothing less than a win from Pawlak and a qualifying effort ahead of Saito (Saito would have 501.5 points + qualifying points where a win gives Pawlak 403 points + 100 tandem points + qualifying points) just to have a chance at the championship. This again requires Millen to progress no further than the top 8. Millen has finished the last two seasons with a top-8 or better finish at Irwindale, which could potentially push the championship to qualifying points if Pawlak were to win.
The best scenario for Pawlak involves JR failing to qualify and Saito to lose in the top 32, requiring only a top-4 finish from Pawlak and possibly some qualifying points to push him into the championship. Pawlak’s first career podium came at Irwindale in 2008, although he hasn’t progressed past the top 8 at Irwindale since that podium. If Pawlak were to pull off the championship, he would become the first FD champion to win the title while bowing out in the top 32 twice in the same season. By the same token, Yoshihara became the first champion to win the title with a top-32 finish in the cards, so nothing is ever impossible. A pair of wins and a top-4 finish would be a success for most drivers, but for the second consecutive season, Pawlak may find himself on the outside in October when he was leading the points in June. With some personal changes off-the-track this season, Pawlak will likely be happy with a finish ahead of his Falken Tire teammate Dai Yoshihara. Going into 2013 with a rumored new title sponsor will be exciting for him, and he will be looking to impress the sponsor with a big bang exiting 2012.
Summary: Pawlak win or 2nd + JR Top 32 or worse + Saito top 32 finish or worse + Millen top 8 or worse… or Pawlak Podium + JR Not Qualify + Saito top 32 or not qualify + Rhys top 16 or worse