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Justin Pawlak claims first podium of the season with second place finish in New Jersey

By - June 23, 2013 – 3:45 pmNo Comment | 527 views

Justin Pawlak earned his best finish of the season by coming home second in Round 4 | The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway on Saturday and now sits fifth overall in the Formula Drift Pro Championship standings.

“We had a real hard start to the beginning of the year starting with a crash during qualifying at Long Beach, but my team has worked so hard to get me here and second-place really feels like first,” said Pawlak. “Ever since the first round we’ve been working on the car, putting it back together, and I really owe this podium to Falken Tire and Ford. I love my Mustang and I hope this is the start to a winning season.”

Pawlak started Round 4 strong by throwing down the first-place qualifying score in his Falken Tire Ford Mustang. Pawlak has earned a top-three qualifying score for three consecutive rounds, but before Round 4 had failed to advance past the Top 16.

“It felt so great to get passed the Top 16,” said Pawlak. “I’ve run into a lot of bad luck this season, but my qualifying run felt really strong and it was great to get my tandem set-up down.”

Pawlak advanced from his first Top 16 battle against Danny George then continued to go on and beat Conrad Grunewald in the Top 8 contest. He carried his hot streak into Top 4 and beat Formula Drift veteran Chris Forsberg before moving on to face Diago Saito in the final Round 4 Formula Drift battle.

“I knew Forsberg was going to bring it as he always does, but my team had my Mustang running so well and I was able to beat him in our battle,” said Pawlak. “Saito has been unstoppable since round two this season and I was ready to bring the heat against him. I was pushing him on my chase lap pretty hard but ended up spinning out on the second corner and finished second.”

Pawlak led the first run of the battle against Saito and piloted his Mustang with composure while the Lexus driver closely followed. Siato led the second run and although Pawlak applied pressure through the first corner, he was unable to hold the drift through the second turn and finished in the runner-up position.

“It feels great to finally have a podium finish under my belt,” said Pawlak. “I just have to take the momentum from this second-place and keep it going through the rest of the season.”

Vaughn Gittin Jr., qualified 11th overall and failed to advance past his Top 16 battle against Saito. The Monster Energy Nitto Tire Ford Mustang driver remains second overall in the Formula Drift Championship.

The Formula Drift Pro Championship series is back in action for Round 5 | Throwdown in Monroe, Washington on July 19-20.

[Source: Ford Racing]

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