The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway
Wall Speedway, Wall Township, New Jersey — Sunday, June 23, 2013
Hot weather and record crowds showed up for Round 4 - The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway in Wall Township, New Jersey.
June 23, 2013 - Santa Clarita, Calif. – Hot weather and record crowds showed up for Round 4 - The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway in Wall Township, New Jersey. Achilles Motorsports drivers Daigo Saito, Robbie Nishida, and Dean Kearney all qualified in the top half of the ladder in Top 32 on Friday, with Saito qualifying 6th, Nishida 7th, and Kearney rounding out the three in the 15th position.
First up in Top 32 was Robbie Nishida, who was set to face Corey Hosford in the first round. Robbie threw down two clean runs, putting him into his second Top 16 of the season. Saito was paired up with Taka Aono in Top 32, and the power of the Bridges Racing Achilles Radial Lexus Sc430 was too much for the veteran driver to overcome, putting Daigo into the Top 16 where he would face 2010 Formula Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. The Top 16 battles would prove to be intense for the two Achilles drivers, but each would ultimately be successful in besting the other drivers and put both Robbie and Daigo into the Great 8 for the second time in a row.
The Great 8 matchups were some of the most exciting of the event, with Nishida facing Darren McNamera and Daigo lining up with Fredric Aasbo. Robbie unfortunately was taken out of the battle by mechanical issues, but the The battles between Saito and Aasbo in Long Beach this season have been called the best drifting battles ever, so both drivers were prepared to throw it all out there to win the battle. The first set of runs ended in a One More Time call, which meant that the two drivers would have a second chance to claim the victory. Fans were on the edge of their seats as the two drivers went all out, and the two competitors did not disappoint the fans with their second runs providing one of the biggest nail-biters of the event. Though an issue with the computerized scoring system initially gave the win to Aasbo, the series directors recognized the discrepancy and Daigo would advance to the Final 4. At this point, Daigo could almost taste another podium and headed into the battle with Darren McNamera with a carbon fiber trophy in mind. DMac struggled keeping up with Daigo, and ultimately it became apparent that Daigo would indeed stand on the podium for the first time at the infamous Wall Speedway. The only thing that stood in Saito's way would be number one qualifier, Justin Pawlek. Daigo and Justin have had some amazing battles during the past two seasons, and this final round at Wall would be no different. Ultimately, Justin spun during his follow run, which gave Daigo the advantage for the battle – and put him on the top of the podium for the second time this season.
The victory at Wall puts Daigo Saito 61 points ahead in the standings, and primes him to be the second person to ever claim back-to-back Championships. Robbie Nishida has moved into 13th place in the standings, with a lot of momentum going into the next event in a few weeks.