Formula Drift – Round 7: Irwindale Speedway 17 October 2012, 7:56 pm

Like any other sport, every team that competes in Formula Drift does so with the goal of ending the year at the top of the standings. Vying for that coveted spot against over 60 other drivers makes for fierce competition that, at its best, leaves those of us spectating in awe of the things being accomplished on the track. Although each of the three teams that make up Scion Racing’s drift program came into the 2012 season hoping to accomplish the same feat, Formula Drift’s final round at Irwindale Speedway left all of them with something unique to take into the next year.

Tony Angelo matched some of his best success in this season in the TAngelo Racing Scion tC, submitting a strong score in the Qualifying Rounds before eventually moving on to the Top 16. Although a brush with the wall during his run against Justin Pawlak meant he wouldn’t move ahead any further that day, his capacity for keeping up with some of Formula Drift’s best drivers after a three year hiatus from the track was proof positive that his skill wasn’t lost during his time away from competition.

Meanwhile, it appeared that Ken Gushi and the GReddy Racing team finally had the GReddy Racing FR-S completely dialed in, as Ken turned in Irwindale’s 5th highest qualifying score. They easily moved on to the Top 16 by dispatching Toshiki Yoshioka and Ken’s old RS-R team in the Round of 32, before eventually having his weekend ended by Matt Field.

Tasked with handling the Scion FR-S during its first ever competitive run, the team did an admirable job steering it to an impressive 8th place finish. A full year’s worth of data for the GReddy team and experience in the driver’s seat for Ken should ensure that duo remain near or at the top of the standings for years to come.

And finally, Fredric Aasbo and the Need for Speed team arrived in Irwindale with the Formula Drift Championship set securely in their sights. Qualifying 3rd overall, the team appeared ready to build on their 2nd place finish in Las Vegas and make a return trip to the podium. His unanimous victory against Darren McNamara in the Top 32 also seemed to serve as another indicator that he would indeed be taking his share of the title. Unfortunately, Aasbo’s driving was only just too aggressive as he fell in the Top 16 to Robbie Nishida.

While Irwindale wasn’t the success the team had hoped it would be, the entire season itself served notice that Aasbo’s name would undoubtedly be mentioned among the best in Formula Drift going forward.  Round after round, Aasbo and the Papadakis Racing moved past champions both former and reigning, without so much as a blink.

A long offseason will give each of the drivers and teams time to both reflect on their success in 2012, and prepare for whatever awaits them in 2013. And when Round 1 in Long Beach comes back around next April, all three of them will be ready to go for that same goal.

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