Scion Racing takes on Formula Drift New Jersey, Wall Speedway
When you’re sitting in the stands, a tandem battle between two drivers seemingly passes before you can really even begin to process what you’ve just seen. One moment, your eyes are lingering on where the bright red starting lights used to be, and the next, you’re busy trying to find the outline of the course through a plume of tire smoke.
Ken Gushi doesn’t see things the way the rest of us do. Like most other professional drivers, part of what makes him great is his ability to slow time down in his head, and in fractions of a second, react to even the slightest of changes in front of him. Unfortunately, when that’s the way you’re wired, two consecutive events sitting on the sidelines for reasons beyond your control gives you a lot of time to think.
We don’t know exactly what’s been on his mind, but judging from his very first practice sessions in the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S, he seemed intent on taking it out on the car’s Hankook tires. Run after run, Ken was shredding up the car’s rubber, filling the bowl of Wall Speedway with smoke seemingly even faster than usual.
Thanks in no small part to the work of the team, the GReddy Racing FR-S was keeping pace the entire way, putting power down nicely during each of Ken’s runs. We’ll still be keeping our fingers crossed, but it’s looking increasingly as though most of the car’s mechanical issues have been ironed out, giving Ken a relatively clear path through the remainder of the season.
Their path on Saturday, however, wasn’t quite as inviting. Ken’s qualifying performance the previous day had him seeded 22nd overall, which meant that he was set for a Top 32 matchup against Vaughn Gittin Jr. We’ve had more than our fair share of run-ins with JR, both figuratively and literally, having been matched up against him at every event thus far this season.
The way Ken had been driving, however, he probably could’ve been matched up against anyone and it wouldn’t have mattered. During their first run, Ken hung right on Vaughn’s door the entire way, and put on one of the best performances we’ve seen from him in a while. For a moment it seemed as if he had a legitimate chance to put a serious dent in JR’s championship aspirations, but the battle ultimately was called a One More Time.
Ken pushed just a little bit too hard on his lead run during the OMT battle, and ended up being pulled off course by Wall Speedway’s unforgiving bank. Top 32 was earlier than we wanted to see him go out, and we’re sure that Ken feels the same way, but a little more seat time should have Ken and the GReddy Racing team back to full strength for the next stop in Evergreen Speedway.
The TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S similarly didn’t have its best showing at Wall Speedway, despite strong efforts from Tony Angelo and his TAngelo Racing team. Coming off a Top 16 finish at Palm Beach, Tony had been looking increasingly comfortable behind the wheel of the car. It allowed him to pull out some of the most angle we’ve ever seen from him during his practice runs, and had him looking more than solid going into the qualifying session.
His first run began solidly, but the unforgiving railing lining the outside of the first turn made contact with his bumper, which ended up knocking him off his line. A chunk of his rear bumper was taken off in the process, but the real damage came from the judges, who didn’t award Tony with a score for the first run.
That ruling only inspired him to throw it in harder during his next time out, but end result was largely the same. The rear end of the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S made contact with the railing once more, which bounced the front of the car into it, taking the bright orange nose of the car off in the process. Tony walked out unscathed, which we’re glad to say, and we’re guessing that he’ll be going into Round 5 with something to prove.
As for Fredric Aasbo, even we’re beginning to wonder if he’s not a robot secretly built for drifting by Norweigian scientists. His driving has been remarkably consistent throughout the entire year, and that has certainly been reflected in the standings. Going into FDNJ, Fredric and the Papadakis Racing team were 5th in the Pro Championship race, and the weekend’s 3rd best qualifying score gave them a good chance to move up even further.
A Top 32 matchup against 2011 champ Dai Yoshihara could potentially have knocked Fredric out early, but it seems like battles against FD Championship contenders only brings out the best in him. After throwing the end of the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC all the way out during his turn as the lead car (look at the angle in that picture!), he stayed close to Dai’s door during his chase to get the win.
Unsurprisingly, he repeated that performance during his Top 16 matchup with Matt Field, which gave Fredric the win and made him 4/4 for Great 8 appearances on the season. What that almost meant, however, was a FDLB rematch against 2012 champion Daigo Saito.
Prior to FDNJ, the two have been paired up together only twice before, at Road Atlanta in 2012 and the Streets of Long Beach earlier this season, with Fredric coming away victorious both times. At first glance, it certainly appeared that would once again be the case, as began pulling away from Daigo as the lead car, and reeled in the 2JZ powered Lexus SC430 as the chase.
It was close enough that the judges deemed a OMT battle necessary, and while we would have liked a win then and there, it wasn’t difficult to see why they came to the decision they did. Their second set of runs were similarly close, however, Daigo ended up being called the winner after some confusion caused by the judges’ computers.
There’s a little under a month to go until FDNW, but we’re packing in a pretty tight schedule so be sure to check back often. The FDNJ episode of Driven 2 Drift will be available later this week, and our ascent up Pikes Peak takes place this Sunday. We’ll be following that up with a recap, photos, the first episode of Driven 2 Drift Season 5, and a whole bunch of other stuff, so stay tuned!