With the track’s immediate future finally secure, the annual Formula Drift finale at Irwindale Speedway no longer feels like a “will they or won’t they” proposition every year. That’s great news for the drifting fans of southern California, who should be in for another barn-burner of a season finale with this weekend’s Title Fight.
Ever since crossing the Atlantic, James Deane has been the man to beat in Formula Drift, and he’ll once again aim to defend his championship on Saturday from the points lead. One thing he won’t be hoping for, though, is a repeat of last year; after falling out in the Round of 16, Deane had to sweat it out as Fredric Aasbo faced off with Vaughn Gittin Jr., and only retained the championship by four points when Aasbo lost the deciding matchup.
The legendary Norwegian is back in the hunt once again, and though he’s fallen to second in points after back-to-back final round appearances by Deane (including a win in St. Louis), the gap is only 19 points. There’s no reason why Aasbo can’t score his second career FD title at Irwindale, especially if he redeems himself from falling just short last year and extends the all-time win mark in the series to 14.
Evergreen Speedway winner Piotr Wiecek and Odi Bakchis, the season’s only dual race winner, sit third and fourth in points, separated by just a single marker at 67 and 68 points back and on the fringe of mathematical title possibilities. Chris Forsberg, the series’ only three-time champion, is fifth, but at 94 points back is all but mathematically eliminated unless multiple drivers sit out. Still as the only driver in the top seven in points still looking for a win in 2019, he’ll be aiming to end a drought that dates back to Orlando last year.
Other close battles to watch include the fight for eighth, as Dai Yoshihara, Michael Essa, and Gittin are separated by just 10 points. 11th place Matt Field is within 12 points of the top 10 and Gittin, but he’ll also need to hold off Justin Pawlak (12 points back) and Forrest Wang (17). In short, plenty of spots in the championship standings can change hands easily with one or two fortunate breaks in Irwindale.
This weekend’s Formula Drift Title Fight from Irwindale Speedway will see gates open for qualifying at 3PM on Friday and for eliminations at 11AM on Saturday. Live streaming on Saturday will kick off at 4:30PM ET/1:30PM PT for the Round of 32 and 9:15PM ET/6:15PM PT for all remaining rounds.