10. Conrad Grunewald Does the Best Entries at Road Atlanta
A highlight of Road Atlanta is the creative entries drivers use coming down the big hill. Conrad Grunewald has the coolest ones in the series. You can watch a POV view here of his wild reverse entry.
9. For Good or Bad – The Judges Didn’t Seem to Agree This Weekend
The judges were so split this weekend I didn’t even bother to keep logging it in my notes after a while. Brian Eggert voted for Danny George to win and the other two picked Daigo Saito in Top 32. Andy Yen wanted an OMT for Dean Kearney vs. Ken Gushi and the other judges wanted Ken Gushi to move on as two examples. I do like the diversity in perspective and it will be interesting to see if this continues throughout the rest of the 2014 season.
8. Formula Drift Needs to Make More of the Mustang Battle
When Justin Pawlak and Vaughn Gittin Jr. do battle you know the fans are getting what they paid for. JTP is actually up on Vaughn now 4 to 3 with wins but this weekend Vaughn needed two OMT battles to defeat his old teammate. This might be one of the best rivalries of this decade in drifting but it is under hyped at best.
7. Why Do People Keep Hitting Aasbo on the Down Hill?
This is now two years in a row someone has just smashed into Fredric Aasbo on the downhill of the Road Atlanta course. Last year, the famous monster truck run happened with him and Vaughn Gittin Jr. which has been highly documented. This was another incident that left me scratching my head as to why Fredric keeps getting hit? I don’t have the right answer but I would love to hear Matt Field speak up about his take on the whole incident. Side note, Fredric Aasbo sure looks like he wants to win a championship this season.
6. On and Off Track Formula Drift Pro 2 was Needed
This weekend really highlighted again the performance gap between the Pro drivers and the drivers who would be classified as Pro 2. Let’s just face it, the series really needs it. Not trying to select out any drivers but the series doesn’t need 50+ guys qualifying on Friday. I personally think Pro 2 should get some restructuring in the future but it is coming along in the right direction.
Matt Coffman really looked most improved from the rookie class and he almost had it into the main event. I personally think he should of got the 32nd slot but things happen. It was sad to hear some of the younger drivers even had a poor performance in the paddock as well not representing them or their sponsors in the best light.
5. Dean Kearney vs. Ken Gushi was Pure Insanity on So Many Levels
This was the stand out battle for me over the weekend. For starters, Ken Gushi stalled at the line twice in a row making Dean Kearney false start and have to come back. I couldn’t see the start line tree from where I was so I cannot say who was playing games but clearly games were played.
The second element of this tandem battle was Dean Kearney put down a mental follow run in the Dodge Viper. Fresh off a podium last weekend in Ireland he looked to be driving with a new level of confidence and controlled aggression. I am sure he wished he flew over with his 240sx from Ireland as well.
I’m still so confused about the end of the run. Gushi goes barreling off course smacking a wall (quick video here) while Dean shuts down for the end of course? Still unclear as to what played out here but it does look like Ken shut down before the course ended. Like I said, this tandem battle was close, intense, and confusing all in one!
4. Road Atlanta Has the Best Fans
Boomboxes, Hand Made Signs, and Team Rowdy all in one place! These fans braved out a drenched qualifying (with no cover like some of Evergreen Speedway) and set up shop for the weekend with EZ-ups and loud applause! The fans in Atlanta are some of the most vocal when they don’t agree with a call and chant up a storm when they want things like a One More Time. It’s a laid back casual affair with people piling all over the hill just to see some action.
3. Daigo Saito Isn’t Going to Win the Championship
The new points restructure is not doing Daigo Saito in the Achilles Lexus SC430 any favors right now. He sits currently in 13th on 68.50 points for the season. Right now, after only two rounds he sits 104.5 points from first place. While mathematically of course he could still win the championship he will need some luck, some wins, and some top drivers to mess up and go out early. The rest of his season needs to be inch perfect or you can write if off for his second championship. Perhaps the Achilles team needs to think about building him a new car soon, maybe for 2015? This poor Lexus has gone through a good bit during its drift career.
2. Drifting in the Rain Isn’t Awesome
The drivers make no smoke and drift really really slow. I get that its a matter of pride how we can drift in the rain while other sports park it but at what cost are we competing in the rain? The fans don’t want to sit in the wet. The media doesn’t want to shoot in the wet. None of the drivers I spoke to wanted to drive in the wet. I can understand during an event when some rain comes down to let it ride but qualifying was synchronized swimming on a racetrack. It took upwards of hours and required a feeler lap to give drivers an idea of course conditions. I just hope as the series heads to the Everglades in three weeks that we can get clearer skies for the weekend but I won’t hold my breath.
1. Odi Bakchis is the Rising Star Nobody Is Noticing
Say what you want about Odi Bakchis but every time we talk I am reminded that he is one of the most technically gifted drivers on grid. He understands drift car setup probably more than any other driver on the grid and takes a conservative approach with his build which really just matches his personality. Odi isn’t the guy to climb fences and bring inflatable swimming pools to his pit so I can forgive you for overlooking his performance this season.
Every year Odi quietly improves his driving and car which watches him slide higher up the championship ranks. With Nitto Tire, Feal Suspension, and Wisefab this season he seems to have quite a combo of grip and control. Odi has quietly snuck into 6th place in the championship on 102 points and pending some major issues could finish in the Top 5 this year. Last season he landed in 10th which was a career best for him. My advice, keep an eye out on Odi through the next two rounds!