(Irwindale, CA) – The 2012 Formula DRIFT Pro Championship season came to a close at the Irwindale Speedway, with 7 drivers with a shot at taking home the title. Ford Racing's own Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Justin Pawlak squared off against the best drivers in Formula DRIFT including 2011 champion Daijiro Yoshihara, 2005 champion Rhys Millen, rising star Fredric Aasbo, and Formula DRIFT rookie Daigo Saito.
The competition was intense and it didn't take long for some of the top contenders for the title to get knocked out as Vaughn Gittin Jr., in his Monster Energy – Falken Tire Ford Mustang, Daijiro Yoshihara, in his Discount Tire – Falken Tire Nissan 240 and the 2009 champ, Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy Nissan 370Z all fell in the in the top 32. ...read more >
After several rounds of intense battles, the championship rounds came down to Justin Pawlak, Daigo Saito, top qualifier Rhys Millen, in his Hankook Tire Hyundai Genesis and Ryan Tuerck in his Retaks Nissan 240. The first match up featured Saito taking on Millen, with Saito moving on to the finals as Millen slammed his Genesis into the wall. With Millen out of commission, and all other title contenders too far behind, Daigo Saito would move on to the final round knowing that he had already locked up the 2012 Formula DRIFT Championship.
Leaving the battle between Pawlak and Tuerck to determine who would face Saito for the top spot on the Irwindale podium that night. Pawlak, who finished second in the 2011 standings, took on a strong challenge from Tuerck but ultimately prevailed to set up an anticlimatic the final round battle with Daigo Saito thanks to the outside retaining wall. Throughout the weekend of competition at Irwindale, the outside wall had laid waste to several competitors, and it didn't miss it's last opportunity as Justin Pawlak became the final victim giving Daigo Saito the final round victory to go with his 2012 Formula DRIFT championship trophy.