Chelsea DeNofa Wins Again at 2023 Formula Drift Seattle, Round 6
The beautiful state of Washington was invaded by a host of professional drivers and so many fans that Evergreen Speedway's stands were sold out. The road to the Championship was wide open as we started off Round 6 of Formula Drift 2023. Chelsea DeNofa won this event the last two seasons (2021 and 2022) and was looking to see if he could make it three in a row under gorgeous weather conditions for the day.
Matt Field took home the top spot qualifying with a score of 91 to kick off the event and Odi Bakchis was just behind him. Vaughn Gittin Jr. made his first event back after winning Road Atlanta to qualify in 21st place setting him up to face Ryan Tuerck in the Top 32.
Chelsea DeNofa faced off against Ola Jaeger to start our weekend off and DeNofa just dominated Ola Jaeger who ended up crashing his Toyota Supra into the wall coming off the bank giving DeNofa an easy victory. Fredric Aasbo lined up with Mike Powers and Aasbo was able to dictate the entire battle and moved into the Top 16.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. faced longtime friend Ryan Tuerck for his big return to the 2023 Formula Drift season. Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Adam LZ are sharing a 2024 Ford Mustang for the season and Vaughn managed to win Round 2 at Road Atlanta which was the last time he drove the car. Vaughn Gittin Jr. dominated the entire tandem battle as both drivers pushed their Nitto NT555 G2 ultra high-performance tires to the limits. Right as Vaughn Gittin Jr. was getting to the finish line, he over corrected the car and spun-out, which made the judges job easy and they gave Ryan Tuerck the advance into the Top 16.
Top 16 – Potential Champions Fall
Matt Field had his first battle of the night after earning a bye run with his top qualifying spot. Rome Charpentier really pushed Matt’s Corvette as he put down an aggressive lead run. Matt ruled the entire battle with one of the best switchbacks at outer zone three seen all weekend in tandem but then crashed just before the finish line to eliminate himself and made the Formula Drift points Championship that much harder to achieve this season.
Chelsea DeNofa and Chris Forsberg had a wild first battle that had the judges call a One More Time which meant they’d do battle again to declare a winner. The next battle had both drivers pushing to the limit, but Chelsea DeNofa was the stronger driver on this return battle and the judges gave him the win and he moved into the great 8.
Fredric Aasbo took off on his lead run with a wild and fast initiation onto the bank gapping Ryan Tuerck by a large margin to start off the tandem battle. Ryan Tuerck then looked smooth and had a much better lead run than Aasbo who struggled with some minor mistakes in his Toyota GR Supra. The judges gave Ryan Tuerck the win to advance into the Great 8 and knocked down another Formula Drift top three Championship contender relatively early in the bracket.
Great 8 – Big Battles and Bigger Stakes
Chelsea DeNofa took off in his lead run and ran the highest line along the bank wall we’d seen all day! Rome Charpentier couldn’t keep up in his BMW but had reported power steering issues earlier in the race weekend. Rome Charpentier couldn’t match the RTR Mustang’s pilot on its lead run and was eliminated from competition. This sent Chelsea DeNofa into the final four and put him one step closer to winning the event for the third time in a row.
Ryan Tuerck then faced off against Kazuya Taguchi and really put a huge gap on him in his Toyota GR Corolla in the lead run. Taguchi had a great lead run too, but Ryan Tuerck stayed behind him with enough proximity to take home the victory on this one, but it was much closer than it should have been after his domination in the lead run.
Odi Bakchis led against James Deane in a tandem battle that put out so much smoke almost nobody in the whole venue could see the track after it commenced. Odi Bakchis pushed way too hard on his lead run and was going too fast and managed to go three wheels off course trying to push James Deane on the battle. Odi Bakchis had a super impressive chase battle that put the entire place on its feet as he puts down the best chase battle of the entire day at Evergreen Speedway. The mistake on Odi Bakchis’ lead run was the difference in the battle that gave James Deane the victory.
Final 4 – A Tale of One More Times
Chelsea DeNofa led the first lap and smacked the big bank wall but managed to pull off the bank into outside zone three where Ryan Tuerck smashed into him and spun out. Chelsea DeNofa was late on the transition into the zone so it was unclear who the judges would assign fault for the incident at first watch. The judges discussed it and put Chelsea DeNofa at fault for the accident. The it was Ryan Tuerck’s turn to take the lead run- he was very aggressive and was on his way to a victory , but somehow came to a stop in the last turn before the finish line and was hit by Chelsea DeNofa. Since both drivers got an incomplete on the lead run it forced the judges to call a One More Time for the battle.
Ryan Tuerck went back to the pits where his crew had to replace a tie rod and fix some damage from the first round of accidents between the two drivers in the first battle. Ryan Tuerck had an ugly chase battle as he struggled to lock in off the bank and stalled by the finish line, again. Chelsea DeNofa also had some trouble, and the judges push them to a second One More Time.
The third battle had Ryan Tuerck go three tires off in the chase run as he overcooked the exit from the bank and looked generally uncomfortable in this run. Ryan Tuerck couldn’t make up for his mistakes in his lead run and the judges give Chelsea DeNofa the pass to the final where he was set to face the Washington local boy, Dylan Hughes, for the final battle.
Dylan Hughes started the battle off against James Deane with a big run on the bank in his BMW with both drivers refraining from making any major mistakes. Dylan Hughes answered on his chase run with some aggressive chase proximity as James Deane put down an amazing lead run. The judges granted the win to local driver Dylan Hughes, and he advanced to the finals.
Final Battle- Would DeNofa Get His Third Seattle Win?
Due to Field and Aasbo getting knocked out in the top 16, Chelsea DeNofa was still in it to win it and his points for the event placed him in the 2023 Formula Drift Championship lead before the evening’s final battle against Dylan Hughes. Dylan Hughes started off first as the lead driver and he went too fast trying to come off the bank, just like many other drivers on the day at Evergreen Speedway and ended up with tires off the course. DeNofa put the power down in his Mustang RTR in the lead run and Dylan Hughes had to scramble to keep up with DeNofa on course. Then, Hughes smashed into him during the last lap and spun out and went completely off course. This gave Chelsea DeNofa a somewhat easy victory for the last battle of the night with Dylan Hughes finishing in second place.
With this win, Chelsea DeNofa became the fifth most winning driver in Formula Drift history. He secured his ninth career event victory that tied him with Formula Drift Hall of Famer Samuel Hubinette for total career wins. Chelsea has now won this event three seasons in a row which is a very impressive feat for any driver in motorsports. The Mustang RTR team has continued to dominate the 2023 season with another victory and two podium finishers for the day.
Chelsea DeNofa now finds himself in first place in the 2023 Formula Drift Championship with 363 points. Fredric Aasbo is only 28 points behind him in second place, and Odi Bakchis/Matt Field are tied for third place — only 40 points behind Chelsea DeNofa. So far, Chelsea DeNofa is the only driver for the 2023 Formula Drift season to win more than a single round.
We look to Utah next for round 7 of Formula Drift 2023 in mid-September.