After a third consecutive podium, Daigo Saito is increasing his lead on a quest to win his second consecutive championship. After being knocked out in the top 16, both Vaughn Gittin Jr and Mike Essa lost ground on Saito in the points standings. Forsberg remains in fourth after his second podium this season, while Pawlak moves from 8th to 5th with his first podium of the season. Here’s how the points shape up after four events in the season:
Justin Pawlak locked down top honors thanks to the new qualifying format (otherwise Ryan Kado would of seen his first first place qualifying spot) but he couldn’t get the job done on the first run like Justin Pawlak. Speaking with Justin at an event in downtown Los Angeles last week he told me the car feels better than it ever has with the 2013 changes and its a work in progress but it will end up being better than ever before. Perhaps this is the beginning of that new era he spoke about starting up. Here is how the Top 32 runs will be and a list of how they qualified:
1.Justin Pawlak vs. 32. Nate Hamilton
16. Danny George vs. 17. Ryan Kado
8. Conrad Grunewald vs. 25. Miro Ovcharik
9. Chelsea DeNofa vs. 24. Matt Powers
4. Chris Forsberg vs. 29. Carl Rydquist
13. Michael Essa vs. Chris Ward
5. Tyler McQuarrie vs. 28. Jeff Jones
12. Kyle Mohan vs. 21. Marc Landerville
(Other Side of Bracket)
2. Darren McNamara vs. 31. Pat Goodin
15. Dean Kearney vs. 18. Ryan Tuerck
7. Robbie Nishida vs. 26. Corey Hosford
10. Kenneth Moen vs. 23. Odi Bakchis
3. Fredric Aasbo vs. 30. Dai Yoshihara
14. Jhonnatthan Castro vs. Matt Field
6. Daigo Saito vs. 27. Taka Aono
11. Vaughn Gittin vs. Ken Gushi
Qualifying List in Order
1. Justin Pawlak
2. Darren McNamara
3. Fredric Aasbo
4. Chris Forsberg
5. Tyler McQuarrie
6. Daigo Saito
7. Robbie Nishida
8. Conrad Grunewald
9. Chelsea DeNofa
10. Kenneth Moen
11. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
12. Kyle Mohan
13. Michael Essa
14. Jhonnatthan Castro
15. Dean Kearney
16. Danny George
17. Ryan Kado
18. Ryan Tuerck
19. Matt Field
20. Chris Ward
21. Marc Landerville
22. Ken Gushi
23. Odi Bakchis
24. Matt Powers
25. Miro Ovcharik
26. Corey Hosford
27. Taka Aono
28. Jeff Jones
29. Carl Rydquist
30. Dai Yoshihara
31. Pat Goodin
32. Nate Hamilton
This post is going to take a while to break down so let’s start with a huge breath of fresh air and some simple instructions. The cones on the outside of the track behind the paint in the first turn were explained in the drivers meeting to earn you a big fat zero.
The judges followed this rule so hard and fast over the weekend that Chris Forsberg drifted past a cone and then through magic, fishing lure wire, or exhaust the cone just tipped over in its place giving him a “0″ and allowing Michael Essa to advance on in the event. In fact, this Vaughn vs. Conrad battle happened right before the Michael Essa vs. Chris Forsberg run.
Then the judges made a similar stern call in the Matt Field vs. Daigo Saito battle once Matt Field hit a cone and then Daigo flew off course right after. They put it at the fault of Matt Field for going off course and leading Daigo Saito to the same destiny.
In the “Correct Angle Fan View” video you can see it was shot from an oncoming angle, that we can guess is a fan shot video, in which you can clearly see Vaughn Gittin Jr. goes off course and hits a cone in the exact same fashion as Matt Field. However, all the judges and commentators did was issue Conrad Gruenwald a 0 for going off course with no deduction to Vaughn Gittin Jr. giving him a definitive advantage he never deserved.
Correct Angle Fan View
It is hard to say how the outcome of the second run would of been with the knowledge of Conrad and Vaughn being at a level score or playing field but how such an oversight occurred is rather annoying and disappointing. Why didn’t we have a camera set to focus down the row of cones like this fan view for the weekend since these cones were such a definite marker?
This automatic zero cone business just seemed like an excuse to eliminate making hard judging calls or use common sense to figure out what is happening on the course. The real crime, is having cones at all in such a precise area of a professional series. Can we bring in krail already? That is what everyone I would imagine wants to see making a clear definition of that turn.
You would be driving at that k-rail at a lower speed than the old Vegas Speedway course, Irwindale, and Evergreen Speedway and then allow a clear and definitive off course to be made. Volunteer course workers are tasked with putting down these cones and while I want to commend them for hustling and working hard the cones are not going to be put precisely in the same place run per run.
This tends to make things problematic when the differnce of a perfect run and a zero are literally millimeters (unless you are Chris Forsberg your exhaust will just knock the cone over after your perfect run scoring a 0.) I know everyone is going to come into this post and claim a Ford conspiracy and others will claim I am an idiot for spending time to point this out. What will make me super happy in 2014 is to see k-rail around that turn or just leaving that South Florida swampland all together.
What do you think about this call and tandel battle from Palm Beach?
Clarification Added at 11:11pm PST After Speaking with Ryan Sage on Phone:
1. I didn’t mean to say that this tandem battle was the same or similar to the Matt Field and Daigo Saito was the same situation as this one or the same as Forsberg vs. Essa. I just mentioned these runs as references to show that cones were a definitive zero.
2. I have been told by many people that the judges didn’t dock Vaughn Gittin Jr. on his first run but Vaughn and Ryan Sage have told me he did receive a zero. The clear cut issue here is that Conrad Grunewald has communicated with me he didn’t know Vaughn got a 0 so I dont’ think or feel anyone else can really be expected to know that happened. I think that really gave Vaughn a psychological advantage and highlights a big communication problem of information to the teams. Weather the points were docked it clearly took a toll mentally on Conrad for run two in my eyes.
3. As I mentioned on my phone call with Ryan Sage I feel moving to a k-rail model would make this issue far more definitive over the course of the weekend. All the conflicts and problems occurred in one corner that drivers went over aggressive and wild into because it lacked serious negative consequences which then have broiled into a huge topic of discussion this week.
With his second consecutive podium finish, Daigo Saito now moves into the drivers seat for the championship, 13 points ahead of Vaughn Gittin Jr. Essa now moves firmly into third place overall, 39.5 points ahead of Chris Forsberg, while Darren McNamara falls from third place all the way to ninth with his first top-32 exit of the season.
After shooting some photographs I just loved at Road Atlanta we put some of them into wallpaper form in sizes: 1024×768, 1140×900, 1250×800,1680×105, 1920×1200. The new wallpapers include some tandem battles and a nice compilation of insane entries from Conrad Grunewald, Michael Essa, and Chelsea DeNofa to top off the new wallpapers. Head over to the Wallpapers section and update your desktop today.
After a disappointing top 8 exit at the hands of Dai Yoshihara in Long Beach, Freddy Aasbo has emerged from qualifying in Atlanta with the top position. Mike Essa, Justin Pawlak, Chelsea Denofa, and Daigo Saito all earn key qualifying points with runs that landed them in the top 5. Here’s the entire qualifying order from Road Atlanta:
1 – Fredric Aasbo
2 – Mike Essa
3 – Justin Pawlak
4 – Chelsea Denofa
5 – Daigo Saito
6 – Darren McNamara
7 – Matt Powers
8 – Matt Field
9 – Vaughn Gittin Jr
10 – Chris Forsberg
11 – Odi Bakchis
12 – Forrest Wang
13 – Jeff JOnes
14 – Danny George
15 – Dai Yoshihara
16 – Kenny Moen
17 – Robbie Nishida
18 – Conrad Grunewald
19 – Ryan Tuerck
20 – Kyle Mohan
21 – Miro Ovcharik
22 – Toshiki Yoshioka
23 – Taka Aono
24 – Dave Briggs
25 – Chris Ward
26 – Will Parsons
27 – Nate Hamilton
28 – Pat Mordaunt
29 – Joon Maeng
30 – Pat Goodin
31 – Corey Hosford
32 – Walker Wilkerson
Here are the tandem matchups for tomorrow:
1 Freddy Aasbo vs 32 Walker Wilkerson
16 Kenny MOen vs 17 Robbie Nishida
8 Matt Field vs 25 Chris Ward
9 Vaughn Gittin Jr vs 25 Dave Briggs
4 Chelsea Denofa vs 29 Joon Maeng
13 Jeff Jones vs 20 Kyle Mohan
5 Daigo Saito vs 28 Pat Mordaunt
17 Forrest Wang vs 21 Miro Ovcharik
2 Mike Essa vs 31 Corey Hosford
15 Dai Yoshihara vs 18 Conrad Grunewald
7 Matt Powers vs 26 Will Parsons
10 Chris Forsberg vs 23 Taka Aono
3 Justin Pawlak vs 30 Pat Goodin
14 Danny George vs 19 Ryan Tuerck
6 Darren McNamara vs 27 Nate Hamilton
11 Odi Bakchis vs 22 Toshiki Yoshioka
Michael Essa brought out this E46 M3 for 2013 and right out of the box looked insane compared to his Z4. This M3 runs a Clutch Masters 850 Series Twin Disk clutch which according to Essa is working out perfectly for his new drift season. Listen to what he says about his product while he rips around the Long Beach streets course.
The Top 16 suffered various delays including tons of water being poured onto the track from the ALMS idiot vendors. After a small delay we kicked off to one insane run of tandem battles. Robbie Nishida defeated his Achilles teammate Daigo Saito and Fredric Aasbo banged into the turn 10 wall in the final four battling his Motegi teammate Matt Powers. Here are images from all the tandem battles of the day.