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LA Shaken by 20,000-HP, New Drift King Yet to Be Crowned

Can you believe the fact we're already in September? We're just a few months away from 2022, and it all seems to have gone past so fast. The 2021 Formula Drift season started in May in Atlanta, Georgia. And in just over one month from now, we're going to see a new American drift king being crowned at Irwindale Speedway in California.
LA Shaken by 20,000-HP, New Drift King Yet to Be Crowned 6 photos
LA Shaken by 20,000-HP, New Drift King Yet to Be CrownedLA Shaken by 20,000-HP, New Drift King Yet to Be CrownedLA Shaken by 20,000-HP, New Drift King Yet to Be CrownedLA Shaken by 20,000-HP, New Drift King Yet to Be CrownedLA Shaken by 20,000-HP, New Drift King Yet to Be Crowned
But first, let's have a look at what happened this past weekend in Long Beach, within the Los Angeles metropolitan area. For years and years, Long Beach has been a place of pilgrimage for Formula Drift drivers and fans alike. And it makes perfect sense, considering FD's headquarters is located here, in one of the coolest places to see in California. This was the 7th round of the season so far and it was just as intense as you would expect.

Qualifying took place on Friday. A total of 33 drivers took a shot at the qualifying session, which would ultimately allow only 32 of them to move on to the battles. With several of the cars in the field being rated at 1,000 horsepower, I guess it's safe to say that Long Beach saw a total of about 20,000-horsepower being put to use in this event. Justin Pawlak secured P1 in his Falken Tire Mustang, just ahead of Fredric Aasbo in the Rockstar Energy Drink Toyota GR Supra.

They were both tied with 97 points after their runs, but Pawlak had a better angle score. P3 went to Chelsea Denofa in his RTR Mustang. Michael Essa claimed 4th, and it was nice to see Daijiro Yoshihara back on top of the game, in P5. Vaughn Gittin JR was down in 11th place, while Chris Forsberg was 17th overall. As opposed to other forms of motorsport, you can't predict the outcome of a drift event just by looking at the qualifying session.

The Top32 brackets revealed some potentially interesting duels coming up next. If you weren't there to see the race live, you can still enjoy the broadcast below. Be sure to get some popcorn while you're at it because the whole race will have you sitting in your chair for over three hours. Pawlak's initial success was eclipsed by Forsberg's strong runs. And Mustang fans were probably sad to see Justin getting knocked out in the Top16.

Michael Essa was off to a strong start in his bracket, after defeating both Federico Sceriffo and Kyle Mohan. But Odi Bakchis had plans of his own and eliminated Essa in the Top4. He would eventually meet up with Fredric Aasbo in the final battle. While Aasbo had a pretty decent lead run, it felt like Bakchis was glued to him all the way. As Vaughn Gittin JR took out both Chelsea Denofa and Matt Field, this means Bakchis's victory brought him closer to a potential 2021 Series Title.

Right now, DeNofa is no longer in the lead. He is second overall, 19 points behind Fredric Aasbo. Matt Field is just one point behind DeNofa, and Bakchis is 4th with 514 points. Vaughn Gittin JR and Ryan Tuerck are down in 5th and 6th. Mathematically speaking, they still have a chance at winning the 2021 season, but it's going to be a close one if they do. If I've managed to get hyped up about Formula Drift, you might like to know that they've got the Super Drift Challenge coming up in a few days. And guess what, Long Beach is going to be the main stage once again!

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