Rhys Millen finds Lady Luck in Las Vegas!
This years event really leveled the playing field with a fresh new track layout. While entry speeds were down from 100+mph to a much more modest 60-75mph, the excitement was still non-stop. It was clear in practice that many of the drivers were really working their way out to the proper line set by Formula Drift. We’ll have more on the track layout and some of the scary results in my next post, so stay tuned.
Fresh off his record setting performance at Pikes Peak (in this very same drift car), Rhys sweeps into Vegas and wins the event putting himself in 3rd place for the championship points race. With only The House of Drift left on the schedule, the championship is sure to have an exciting finish.
The road to victory for Rhys would not be an easy one. Fredric Aasbo would be the man standing in the way of a first place finish, and the tall order of competition didn’t stop with Aasbo. Rhys also had to eliminate the Achilles tire duo of both Daigo Saito and Robbie Nishida to get to the final battle against Aasbo.
The focused Aasbo sent points leader Vaughn Gitten Jr to the consolation round in what was easily a battle of the drift gods. Aasbo layed down a nearly perfect line on his first lead and stuck close to Jr on his follow. It would show that neither driver would make a mistake and the judges called for a one more time. The determined Aasbo bettered his nearly perfect first lead run with more speed, a better line, and put more distance on Jr. Jr’s lead run was also good, but Aasbo’s was clearly much smoother and more aggressive.
Vaughn Gitten Jr would eliminate two other American muscle cars in his quest for 3rd place. He also defeated Robbie Nishida in the consolation round to secure his place on the podium.
Local boy and Formula Drift rookie, Danny George, qualified 11th in his Crabbrokers.com Flyin’ Miata. Yes… this too has an LS1 swap in it (we Americans will put a V8 in anything).
Alex Lee is Candian, but he too appreciates a strong V8 engine. He put a 6.8 litre LS3 into his 1990 Toyota Cresta JZX81.
Corey Hosford is another LS swapped driver. The Ksport 350z has a built LQ9 bottom end, LS3 heads, a Magnuson supercharger, and torque for days. The rookie showed improved driving and confidence but still failed to qualify. He put down a respectable 71 and was just barely bumped from the show. This car is unique for multiple reasons. As stated above, it’s a supercharged v8, and he has one of the coolest liveries. Hot zombie chicks dawn either side of the 350z’s rear quarter panels.
Chris “The Force” Forsberg had a rough week in Vegas. He blew his motor early in the week and just barely made the Top 32 with a run of 72.5. First place qualifier Aasbo eliminated Forsberg in the Top 32 and moved on to place second in the event.
Ken Gushi also had some mishaps. His car caught fire duning his follow run against Matt Field in the Top 32. He would actually win the battle and his crew quickly got to work on the car. He made it to the line for the top 16 but was eliminated by Conrad Grunewald.
Daigo Saito would put drivers Chelsea DeNofa, and Tony Angelo into the wall during competition with his aggressive driving style No contact was made in either battle, but it was clear that his driving style pushed DeNofa and Angelo into making mistakes. He maintained an extremely close proximity to Angelo through the entry and into the first two clipping zones. Angelo went hard into the wall and put his Scion TC out of commission. Denofa actually crashed trying to keep up with Saito. I have to give him credit, he never lifted. Saito initiated at nearly 75mph (17mph over the minimum entry speed). DeNofa followed suit but was simply going too fast. He carried his speed into the wall at the second clipping point. The rookie had a fantastic outing, making the top 16 in the Bergenholtz Racing RX-8, with the exception of his encounter with the wall.
Matt Powers qualified 8th but wouldn’t make it past the Top 32.
Congratulations to Rhys, Fredic, and Vaughn for their podium in Vegas! This years championship is shaping up to have a very dramatic ending. With Irwindale being one of the largest courses, with two banked corners anything can happen! We look forward to the see what the event unfolds.