Justin Pawlak wins Formula Drift opener in Long Beach for second straight year
This weekend Justin Pawlak won the opening round of the Formula Drift season in Long Beach, CA for the second straight year, making it three years in a row that a Ford Mustang driver has won the event. Pawlak, who finished a close second in the overall standings last year, defeated 2009 champion Chris Forsberg in the quarter finals and eventually beat out 2011 season champion and Falken teammate Daijiro Yoshihara in the final round to win the event.
“Its just amazing to come back to Long Beach and put down another win 2 years in a row,” said Pawlak. “This is a great way to start the season and go for the championship. I have to give big thanks to the 2013 Mustang. What an amazing car and amazing platform and that is why it is back on top here in Long Beach.”
“Just being able to take one run at a time, one battle at a time and one round at a time is exactly where I wanted to be,” said Pawlak, “I really wanted to stay focused on what was at hand and not getting ahead of myself and just staying with the game plan. We didn’t do it at the last round last season and that cost us the title, but we are back here doing it. I felt great when I woke up today and when we cruised through the first couple of rounds I had a really good feeling in the car. In the Great 8 we went up against Chris Forsberg in his 370z and it was a really tight battle. It felt really good to pull that one off. In the finals I had the chance to take on Daijiro in the finals and get my revenge from last year. We had a couple of good runs with Dai and we came out number one.”
Pawlak’s teammate and fellow Mustang driver Vaughn Gittin Jr, who won the Long Beach event in 2010, qualified third, but was knocked out in the first round of competition. “Today didn’t go the way I pictured it would,” said Gittin Jr. “I made a really stupid mistake in my lead run in the Top 32 and I really tried hard to make up for it on my chase run. I didn’t get it done and that is drifting. Atlanta is a couple of weeks away and I am moving forward. There is no doubt I have the team in Falken and ASD and the car, my Mustang, to win a championship. I just have to work a couple of internal things out with myself and keep moving on. There are no excuses. I made a mistake and this is drifting.”
Round two of the Formula Drift championship is May 11-12 at Road Atlanta.