Longtime Formula Drift host Wall Stadium Speedway will play host to the easternmost round of the 2018 Black Magic Pro Championship, as well as the series’ 100th round ever, as drivers run through The Gauntlet later this afternoon. Qualifying wrapped up on Friday, and today’s live streams kick off at 12:45PM ET for the preliminary rounds and 4PM ET for the top 16 all the way through to the final battle.
The first three rounds of the championship have seen an interesting mix of past champions and up-and-comers mixing it up in the later battles, and there’s no reason to expect anything different in New Jersey this weekend. As the season approaches its halfway point before swinging back west at Evergreen Speedway in late July, pay attention to these three storylines to help shape this afternoon’s action:
Will we see four different winners in four races to start the 2018 season?
Fredric Aasbo made it happen on the Streets of Long Beach. Chris Forsberg lived up to the event name as he Scorched the field in Orlando. And Kristaps Bluss made sure he’d be a part of the Road to the Championship with a win at Road Atlanta. That still leaves defending series champion James Deane, defending event winner Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis, Long Beach podium finishers Forrest Wang and Piotr Wiecek, and plenty of others winless coming into New Jersey. There’s no doubt: this field is stacked.
Which driver who’s faced a disappointing start to the year will turn it around this weekend?
Former series champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. has had a season to forget so far this year, winning only a single round in Long Beach to fall all the way to 20th in the standings. He’s not the only ex-champion struggling to advance, though, as 2013 champion Michael Essa only has two round wins this year and hasn’t podiumed since this race last year. They’re joined by other talented competitors like Matt Field, Chelsea DeNofa, and Matt Coffman, all of whom have won three battles or fewer so far in 2018.
Can Fredric Aasbo make it a perfect eight-for-eight on the podium this year?
Judging by the form he’s shown so far in 2018, Formula Drift’s winningest all-time driver is beyond determined to steal the champion’s crown from Deane for this year. Simply put, he’s looked unbeatable: after his Long Beach victory, he placed third in Orlando and second in Atlanta to head into New Jersey as the points leader. He went down to eventual event winner Bakchis at this event last year in the Round of 8, but is also the most recent back-to-back winner at this track (in 2014 and 2015).