JTP Justin Pawlak Falken Tire Ford Mustang

The Formula Drift season opener is this weekend on the street of Long Beach, CA, and each of the competitors has been busy throughout the off season preparing their cars to contend for the title. As usual, two different Mustang drivers are expected to be in contention for the title: Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Justin Pawlak. While Gittin left Falken Tire this past season to form his own team and partner with Nitto, Pawlak is staying put in the Blue and Turquoise colors and looking to build on his success with the team the past two seasons. A second place finish in the 2011 season followed by a 4th place finish in 2012 has cemented Pawlak has one of the best and most consistent drivers in the series.

While there are still a few days before the official start of the season, Formula Drift held its media day yesterday and we headed down to Long Beach to talk with Pawlak and check out his Mustang. The Kalamazoo, MI native and current SoCal resident seems confident heading into the new season, although he doesn’t necessarily show it at first glance. His laid back personality and shy demeanor aren’t typical for a Formula Drift driver, but Pawlak manages to flip a switch once he gets behind the wheel. During the first practice session of the day many of the drivers were fairly tentative while drifting around the course, but Pawlak came out with guns blazing, smoke billowing from the rear tires while going full-lock around a corner.

Pawlak has reason to be self assured on the course. A Mustang driver has won the Long Beach event the last three years, Gittin in 2010 and Pawlak the last two years. He’s also more comfortable with the car than ever before, he tells us. While it’s essentially the same chassis, the Mustang has received several updates and revisions to the suspension system. The Falken team have finally seemed to figure out a good powertrain combination as well, sticking with a Roush Yates V8 producing well beyond 800 horsepower. You might also notice Pawlak’s Mustang has a new look, with a 3dCarbon body kit constructed of lightweight carbon fiber and redesigned HRE wheels wrapped with Falken Azenis RT-615K tires.

We’ll bring you a full report of how Pawlak fares at the Formula Drift opener in Long Beach this weekend, but until then check out his Falken Tire Mustang in detail in the gallery below.

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Photos © 2013 MustangsDaily.com

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