Falken places second at Las Vegas
The standings, going into the final event at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA, have Team Falken’s veteran member Daijiro “Dai” Yoshihara in first, followed by Justin Pawlak in 2nd and McNamara in third. Defending Formula Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr., sits in 8th, while final Falken teammate Tyler McQuarrie is in 9th. Falken privateer Ross Petty is 16th.
The heat of the day extended into the night as the Formula D “After Dark” Vegas track encountered a constantly changing surface, making qualifying a challenge for Team Falken. Gittin Jr. was the top Falken qualifier in 5th, while Yoshihara was 6th, with the remainder of the team sitting in 12th and beyond.
Strong team spirit existed throughout the Falken camp as Pawlak, sitting second in the Championship, experienced catastrophic engine failure in his Ford Mustang, and a collective decision was made to swap him into McQuarrie’s 350Z while Tyler would pilot the Falken Tire Nissan S15.
“This was a tough decision, but with only two events left, we needed to protect Justin’s position in the overall point standings,” said Jonathan Bradford, Falken’s Formula Drift Supervisor. “Tyler proved he was a champ in his own right for stepping out of his car and spotting for Justin during practice, giving him some great pointers on the car.”
As a result of a solid practice run, four of the five Team Falken drivers advanced beyond the Top 32 round. During the Top 16, McNamara defeated teammate Gittin Jr., while both Pawlak and Yoshihara battled against other competitors, but did not prevail, leaving only McNamara to advance to the final.
“It has been a long season, and the top three in the points standings are Team Falken drivers, which makes all of us at Falken very proud,” Bradford added. “Only 35 points separate the three, and only 52 between first and fifth, so with 100 points up for grabs for the win in Round 7 – the final – it will be an exciting event. We’ll be at Toyota Speedway with everything in place.”
As always, the hospitality was kicked up a notch in Las Vegas as Falken played host to 169 dealer guests, while the crowds enjoyed the appearances of the Falken Spokesmodels who distributed Falken swag throughout the steamy night.
“Nothing beats the heat of Vegas better than to land on the podium,” added McNamara. “Naturally, I would have preferred to be on the top step, but I’m very fortunate having made it to second because it strengthens my position in the overall points. This was an intense and grueling event, but our Falken Azenis RT615K tires simply got better through the heat. As a Team Falken member, I’m grateful I’ve got great teammates and fantastic engineering support.
The action continues in just five weeks, as the teams return to California for the season finale, Round 7, and rev up the City of Irwindale on October 7-8.