Formula Drift Round 5 in Seattle is in the books, and as we speculated at the end of last week, this round had some significant championship implications.
There were undoubtedly some surprising moments and other things that played out mostly the way we anticipated. We’re going to break it all down for you if you missed the livestream over the weekend.
Formula Drift Seattle Qualifying
Friday is when the first big shock of the weekend took place. Points leader Matt Field was the first to make a qualifying run, and it did not go well for him. The start of his run looked solid, but then he made a big correction. It is unclear what caused Field to make such a significant error, but the result is that the judges ruled his run incomplete, which automatically sent him down to the bottom 8.
His second change run was much better, but the damage was already done, and the best he could qualify was 26th. The ordeal was likely a sobering reminder to Field that all the progress he made could quickly go away from the slightest mistake.
Qualifying in the top spot was Mike Essa, who has had strong qualifying showings all season but brought it together at Evergreen Speedway. Chris Forsberg qualified in the second spot after having issues in the last two rounds that sent him to the bottom 8.
There were rumors around the paddock that Chelsea DeNofa might purposefully qualify low as he allegedly prefers to start his tandem runs in the chase position using the power of his Ford RTR Mustang to intimidate opponents. Those rumors were lent some credence when DeNofa made a huge correction which sent him to the bottom 8. Chelsea Ultimately qualified in 27th, but that put him up against Odi Bakchis, which does not seem advantageous.
For the most part, Top 32 was business as usual, with a few exceptions. Adam LZ suffered a loss to Trenton Beechum due to Adam’s Nissan S15 Silvia getting a bit too friendly with a barrier.
Oh, and going back to the alleged low-qualifying strategy from Chelsea DeNofa that saw him face off against Odi Bakchis; If it really was a ploy by DeNofa, it paid off as Chelsea managed to defeat Odi and move on to the Top 16.
In the Top 16, the number one qualifier Mike Essa and his BMW managed to get the win over Ken Gushi and his A90 Toyota Supra. Further down the bracket, Jeff Jones got a win over Dean Kearney, and Chelsea DeNofa secured his trip to the Great 8 with a victory over Trenton Beechum.
On the other side of the bracket, Chris Forsberg returned to form and earned a win over Fredric Aasbo. Then another epic battle ensued as Matt Field had to face off against defending champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. Despite facing a very tough opponent, Field was able to get the win over Gittin Jr.
Tuerck earned a win over his Drift Alliance brother Justin Pawlak, and the right side of the bracket finished off with Travis Reeder winning over Simen Olsen.
Dylan Hughes managed to take down 2013 champion Mike Essa in what some might call an upset victory. Anyone watching Hughes for a while knows that he is undoubtedly a threat to any driver.
Chelsea DeNofa got a free pass against Jeff Jones, as Jones’ 350Z suffered damage that couldn’t be repaired within a 5-minute time out. This was indeed a sad situation as a Great 8 battle between Jeff Jones, and Chelsea DeNofa was bound to have been endlessly entertaining for fans.
On the other side of the bracket, Matt Field ended Chris Forsberg’s day, and Ryan Tuerck earned a victory over Travis Reeder.
With the wild card that is Jeff Jones out of Chelsea’s path, he faced off against Dylan Hughes for the right to go to the finals. As we mentioned previously, Dylan is not a pushover, so Chelsea had his hands full. DeNofa needed to maintain ridiculous proximity to earn the win, but he pulled it off to his credit.
Ryan Tuerck managed to overcome Matt Field, who was motivated by his championship points lead and punched his ticket to the finals.
Unfortunately, Tuerck needed more than a ticket. His Toyota Racing Corolla started to suffer an overheating issue after his battle with Field, and his team couldn’t get it fixed in time to face off against Chelsea DeNofa in the finals. Thus DeNofa earned his third win of the season in Seattle.
Chelsea DeNofa wins Formula Drift Seattle
Despite winning three times out of five rounds in 2021, Chelsea DeNofa is only one point ahead of Matt Field, which is a testament to how consistent Field has been all year.
There are three stops left in the season, with St. Louis coming next, then Long Beach, and Finally Irwindale. So there is still plenty of time for the championship race to get shaken up again.
However, it is hard to believe that Chelsea will lose his momentum with three wins already.
What are your predictions for the rest of the 2021 Formula Drift season? Please leave them in the comments below or tweet to us at @MotorworldHype.