West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach, Florida — Wednesday, June 05, 2013
The rainy weather that haunted Round 2 at Road Atlanta followed the series to West Palm Beach where six Achilles Motorsports drivers attempted to make it into the big show at Round 3 – The Invasion.
June 5, 2013 - Santa Clarita, Calif. – The rainy weather that haunted Round 2 at Road Atlanta followed the series to West Palm Beach where six Achilles Motorsports drivers attempted to make it into the big show at Round 3 – The Invasion. Achilles Motorsports saw five of six drivers make the big show, with two drivers, Daigo Saito and Robbie Nishida standing on the podium at the end of the event.
Achilles drivers Daigo Saito, Robbie Nishida, Forrest Wang, Dean Kearney and Dave Briggs all qualified for the Top 32 on Friday. Saito, who qualified third would face Pat Goodin in the first round of competition. Nishida was paired with Chris Ward, Forrest Wang would take on Miro Ovcharik, Dean was lined up against Chris Forsberg, and Dave Briggs was up against Jeremy Lowe. All but one of the Achilles drivers was able to make it to the Top 16 with Saito and Wang set to replay their battle from Atlanta. Nishida was faced with number one qualifier Justin Pawlek in the Top 16 and came out of the battle victorious due to JTP scrubbing speed on his lead run causing Robbie to spin. Dave Briggs defeated Tony Angelo after an initial one-more-time call from the judges. Saito was able to best Wang and head to the Great 8 where he would replay the intense battle from Irwindale with Matt Field.
The Great 8 paired two of the remaining three Achilles drivers in head-to-head competition as Robbie Nishida faced Dave Briggs. Briggs put it all out there but this was clearly Nishida's weekend as he headed to the Final 4. Saito had his sights set on another podium and got the win against the aggressive Field. Nishida faced Mike Essa in the Final 4 with Saito set to face the Vaughn Gittin Jr. Robbie was not able to get past Essa, who was driving like a man possessed, but was in a great position heading into the consolation round. In a near repeat of Atlanta, contact with Gittin gave Saito the win but caused the Bridges Racing crew, led by Gary Castillo, to dig deep to get the car ready for the finals. Nishida could feel the podium in his grasp because Gittin's car was damaged due to the contact with Saito. Ultimately, Gittin was not able to compete, giving Robbie Nishida his first podium since 2008. The Bridges Racing team pulled off a miracle and got Daigo's Lexus Sc430 ready for the final round where Saito stood on his second podium of the season with a second place finish.
This was the first ever double podium for the Achilles Motorsports team – but certainly not the last! The second place finish moved Daigo Saito into first place in points and propelled Robbie Nishida into the top 15.