The sensational story coming from the last round of Formula D was, of course, the battle between Justin Pawlak and Tyler McQuarrie. McQuarrie hit the infamous Evergreen Speedway wall and went out of bounds just before coming off the bank, but did Pawlak push him into the wall? Or did Pawlak hit him because he lost speed due to hitting the wall? Either way, Pawlak passed the Camaro and McQuarrie chased him through the Power Alley and shoved him out of the way so he could regain the lead. Not one to back down, Pawlak stayed hard on McQuarrie’s tail through the transition, so hard that the two cars got tangled up, with the Mustang unable to steer, pushing the Camaro into the wall just before the end of the course.
But I’m more interested in how exciting the chase for the championship has become. When Fredic Aasbø won at Long Beach with Odi Bakchis taking second and Ryan Tuerck coming in third, everyone knew this was going to be a good season.
Then Geoff Stoneback dashed Aasbø’s hopes at extending his lead in Atlanta, while Bakchis rushed in and took over the top stop with his first career victory. Aasbø and Bakchis both went out early in Orlando, which probably saved Aasbø’s season, while Tuerck defaulted his way to a win and the points lead.
In New Jersey, Bakchis made it to the Great 8, Tuerck got to the Final Four, but Aasbø climbed all the way to the top of the podium for his second win of the season, though it still left him six points behind Bakchis and seven points behind the overall lead.
Now after Seattle, everyone is in trouble. With Aasbø’s second consecutive win, he extended his lead to 76 points over Tuerck and 80 over Bakchis. Fourth place Ken Gushi is a whopping 109 points behind the lead.
Let’s take a look at how it all went down: Kenny Moen, Ryan Tuerck, Fredric Aasbø, and Ken Gushi took the top four qualifying spots and control of one quadrant of the bracket. Moen breezed by Jeff Jones but Daigo Saito’s car finally held together, allowing him to not only beat Charles Ng, but Moen too. Then Alec Hohnadell, in only his second year out of ProAm, took out Kyle Mohan, Chris Forsberg, and Saito, to earn a spot in the Final Four.
Gushi defeated Wicknick, McQuarrie defeated Gushi, and Pawlak smashed McQuarrie’s car to smithereens, landing the second spot in the Final Four.
On the other side of the bracket, Stoneback ended Tuerck’s day before it even got started. Pat Goodin, after an amazing battle with Rookie of the Year leader Masashi Yokoi, kept his momentum up and got past Stoneback and Matt Field for the third Final Four spot.
And finally, Fredric Aasbø put away Dan Savage, Mike Essa, and Vaughn Gittin, Jr. to land the one remaining spot in the Final Four.
But hang on, Forrest Wang and Mad Mike had a pretty incredible double-OMT Top 32 battle and that deserves a photo.
Or three. Mad Mike took the win on this one.
The first battle of the Final Four was Hohnadell vs. Pawlak. The rain that had been threatening the event was finally falling as the pair left the starting light. Hohnadell pulled an early gap, but the rain forced both drivers to drive much slower than normal. Pawlak caught up in the Power Alley and Hohnadell, at max angle, bumped the last inner clip. Pawlak lost drift while attempting to avoid the S13.
Pawlak took over the lead position but Hohnadell showed off his rain prowess by following only inches away from the Mustang. Then Hohnadell straightened out on the bank, allowing Pawlak to pull away. But then Pawlak spun out when coming off the bank. The second run was thrown out, and Hohnadell won based on the first run, earning a trip to the Final Battle and his first career podium finish.
Aasbø pulled a huge gap on Pat Goodin on the bank, and then ran a deep line though the Power Alley, allowing Goodin to catch up with a shallow line.
They switched positions and Aasbø stuck to Goodin all the way through the bank and got even closer through the Power Alley. It was hard to find any faults in Goodin’s performance, but he just couldn’t faze Aasbø. JTP landed in third place and the Norwegian Hammer moved on to the Final Battle to face Hohnadell.
Aasbø led first and the gap wasn’t huge on the bank. Hohnadell looked good until he threw too much angle before the last clipping point and straightened out after the transition.
Hohnadell knew it was his to lose, and he ran a beautiful, high line on the bank, while Aasbø followed close but with less angle. Hohnadell held his big angle through the Power Alley, though his line was shallow, missing the outer clipping zones. Aasbø had no problem completing the course and earned his third victory of the season.
The win moved Aasbø way into first place, and although 18 drivers could still mathematically win the Formula D championship, it’s really only going to be a fight amongst the top five: Aasbø, Tuerck, Bakchis, Gushi, and Forsberg. Aasbø, Bakchis, and Forsberg all finished on the podium in Texas last season, so the next round ought to be very exciting.