Justin Pawlak Ford Mustang

Our two favorite drivers in drifting, Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Justin Pawlak, headed to the streets of Long Beach, CA this past weekend for the opening round of the 2014 Formula Drift season. The Ford Mustang duo are coming off a strong finish in 2013, having finished fifth and sixth respectively, and both have a history of doing well at the Long Beach course so expectations were high

Having finished second at Long Beach last year, Vaughn Gittin Jr. was undoubtedly looking for a podium spot once again in 2014. That was made clear with a second place qualifying and an easy win over the 31st place qualifier David Briggs. Unfortunately Gittin ran into former Falken teammate Darren McNamara in the second round and lost a close battle.

That left Pawlak as the only Mustang driver left, who also had a strong qualifying in sixth and easily beat out Jeff Jones in round one. Pawlak looked stronger and stronger as the bracket narrowed down, defeating Ryan Tuerck in the second round and claiming victory over Odi Bakchis in the round of eight. In the semi finals Pawlak faced perennial contender Chris Forsberg. The two drivers didn’t give each other an inch, with Pawlak leading first and Forsberg second. After both runs it came down to the judges and Forsberg was given a split decision win. With new rules giving the third place finish to the higher qualifier (Michael Essa), that left Pawlak with a fourth place finish.

You can see both video and photo highlights from the event below.

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Photos © 2014 MustangsDaily.com

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