Aasbo and Whiteman Finish Top 16 at 2022 Formula DRIFT St Louis
With three rounds remaining in the 2022 Formula DRIFT season, Round 5 at World Wide Technology Raceway in St Louis proved challenging for Team ENEOS due to a difficult course layout with a tricky outer zone 4 heading to the finish line. Both ENEOS-sponsored PRO driver Fredric Aasbo and PROSPEC driver Rich Whiteman ended their events in the Top 16 heats.
Aasbo was hoping to continue his winning ways after a Top 8 finish at Englishtown, but had his work cut out after qualifying shook up the competition ladder. His first competitor in the Top 32 would be the highly skilled Chelsea DeNofa, and fortunately Aasbo took the win in his Rockstar Energy Toyota GR Supra after DeNofa spun off-track in outside zone 1 (OZ1). The win moved Aasbo into the Top 16 where he met Toyota and Papadakis Racing teammate, Ryan Tuerck.
As Aasbo and Tuerck are well matched, the fans were set for another epic battle but Aasbo nudged Tuerck’s Rain-X / Nitto Tire Toyota GR Corolla in OZ4, which sent him offline. With Aasbo deemed at fault for the contact, Tuerck played the second run conservatively and won the battle.
“It was a wild night in St Louis,” Aasbo said. “I ended up nudging Tuerck in the Top 16, and while it’s fun to drive aggressively, it’s not always the most consistent. This is what I get for playing with fire!”
Rich Whiteman qualified 17th in his Freedom Motorsportz Toyota JZX100, lining up against Zach Farrar in the PROSPEC Top 32. The two have never faced each other in practice or competition, and Whiteman was able to stay close throughout his chase run. Switching to the lead, Whiteman hit all his marks, which was enough to seal the deal.
In the Top 16, Whiteman faced two-time and defending PROSPEC champ, Dmitriy Brutskiy, a local friend he’s driven against plenty of times. During his chase, Whiteman kept on Bruskiy’s door going into Turn 1 but the cabin quickly filled with smoke going into OZ2 (due to being right-hand-drive), causing Rich to run shallow through the zone, which would work against him on his lead run.
Taking a more aggressive lead, Whiteman rode the outside edge through OZ1 but tapped the wall in OZ2. He then filled OZ3 but unfortunately went wide in OZ4, giving Brutskiy the advantage and the win.
“After watching the replay and listening to the judges’ critiques, I had the win in the bag until OZ4, which is encouraging!” Whiteman said. “If I can beat the champ, it shows we have potential to get a win soon. Going into the Finals at Utah, it’s time to focus on being more aggressive, given my current position in the points standings. I can break into the Top 5 but I need to be on my A-game!”
Aasbo heads to the Pacific NorthWest for Round 6: Throwdown at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA on August 5-6. Whiteman’s next race is in Utah on September 15-17.