Chelsea DeNofa Dominates 2021 Formula Drift at Lake Erie Speedway for Second Win of the Season
Formula Drift visited another new venue this past weekend at Lake Erie Speedway in Erie, Pennsylvania. This course adds another banked oval to the Formula Drift calendar and a unique location nestled into the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania (which is also close to the Canadian border). This marks the first ever Formula Drift event in the state of Pennsylvania and the venue packed the house around the bank with some enthusiastic fans.
The weather really shook up the qualifying bracket and forced a bunch of top drivers into the second lap elimination round of the qualifying brackets. Adam LZ took home top qualifying honors for the first time in his career! He put on what appeared to be a driving masterclass and with the rain falling, he was able to put his S15 Silvia in all the right places.
Fredric Aasbo qualified just behind him in second place which earned both of them a bye run for the competition in the Top 32.
Dry Weather for a Fast Top 32
The weather finally cleared up for all the drivers on Saturday morning putting some drivers in a unique spot with a lack of data on the track performance in dry weather. In fact, Ryan Tuerck crashed hard during morning practice and barely fixed his Toyota Corolla in time to make the Top 32 at all. Tuerck was able to defeat Dean Kearney and his Dodge Viper who has been performing very well during this 2021 Formula Drift season.
Matt Field, the current championship points leader, called a Competition Timeout before his Top 32 run ensuring that everyone noted his upcoming battle against a former champion Dai Yoshihara. Matt Field and his team recently replaced the steering rack and they felt the alignment wasn’t correct with his Corvette just before the battle. Dai Yoshihara ended up blinking first in this battle and had a huge correction on the flat part of the track and giving Matt Field a ticket to the Top 16.
Adam LZ Falls in the Top 16
Adam LZ found his next round of competition was against the red-hot Chelsea DeNofa in his BC Racing Mustang RTR Spec 5-D. Both drivers warmed up their Nitto NT555 G2 tires and went into a battle both took very seriously. Adam LZ was looking for revenge after his Top 32 elimination at Englishtown last Formula Drift to DeNofa, but DeNofa wasn’t backing down. All three judges picked Chelsea DeNofa to advance into the Great 8 after two laps of tandem battles.
Ryan Tuerck couldn’t stop the current points leader Matt Field in a tight Top 16 battle that ended up with Tuerck spinning his car in the chase position trying hard to keep up with Matt Field’s Chevrolet Corvette.
Next up in the Top 16 was Vaughn Gittin Jr. who dominated former Champion Michael Essa in his RTR Mustang to move into the Great 8. Odi Bakchis closed out the Top 16 by defeating Taylor Hull with the best tandem chase lap we have seen on the night to this point. His distance in the transition could only be measured in millimeters as he set up for a Great 8 all-out brawl with Vaughn Gittin Jr.
The Sun Sets with Just 8 Left
Kazuya Taguchi faced off against Chelsea DeNofa to start off the Great 8 and pushed DeNofa in one of his toughest battles on the night. Taguchi didn’t have enough in his chase run to match DeNofa’s aggressive following style and that moved Chelsea DeNofa into the Final Four.
Matt Field forced Dylan Hughes into a tough battle but edged him out even after slamming into his BMW on the bank in the chase position. The judges looked at this one closely and gave Matt Field the Final Four battle where he would face Chelsea DeNofa.
The other side of the bracket saw Fredric Aasbo get into a tough battle with Yves Meyer from Switzerland in his BMW. Fredric Aasbo shows that his Toyota Supra was really dialed in and performed his tandem chase run at the limit following Yves and earning himself a Final Four slot.
The best battle of the Great 8 came last as we saw Odi Bakchis face off against reigning Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. in one insane tandem battle. Coming off the bank and into the third outside zone, Vaughn Gittin Jr. punted Odi Bakchis and his S15 Silvia square off the course due to Odi Bakchis being on/off the gas in the outer zone which is not permitted in the judging criteria. Vaughn Gittin Jr. laid out a flawless lead run and took home the last spot in the Final Four.
Almost an All-American Muscle 4
Chelsea DeNofa set the marker for his dominance in his lead run against Matt Field in the Final Four. Matt Field in his chase run got so lost in the smoke and he couldn’t run the wall as deep as DeNofa to start the chase lap. This all just left him fumbling around the track while trying to play catch up with DeNofa. This paved the way for an easy advance into the finals for Chelsea DeNofa.
The all Nitto Tire battle with Fredric Aasbo and Vaughn Gittin Jr. really had Aasbo showing he had dialed in his Supra as the weekend continued on into the night. Fredric Aasbo ended up having a huge mechanical issue on the entry of his chase run but Vaughn Gittin Jr. also made a mistake on the course that the judges declared a “non-chaseable” run. This unique double incident canceled out the second part of the tandem battle and gave Fredric Aasbo an advancement into the finals based on the first lap of the tandem run.
Another Non-Final Battle!
A tough way to finish another Formula Drift round at Lake Erie Speedway, but sadly Fredric Aasbo and his entire team couldn’t repair his suspension damage in time to compete against Chelsea DeNofa who had the hot hand all weekend long in tandem. This result meant that Chelsea DeNofa won his fifth career Formula Drift event. Now, Chelsea DeNofa finds himself just 19 points behind the current points leader, Matt Field. Fredric Aasbo, with his second-place finish, is only 24 points behind Matt Field (or a meager five points behind his Nitto Tire teammate Chelsea DeNofa).
The Formula Drift series will be back in action in just three weeks at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington!