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Vaughn Gittin Jr. finished first at Round 2 | The Road to the Championship of Formula DRIFT and earned his first podium of the season in the Nitto Tire Monster Energy Ford Mustang.

Justin Pawlak fell short of a run for the podium at Road Atlanta with an early exit at the Top 16 battle against Vaughn Gittin Jr.

DEARBORN, Mich., May, 11, 2014 – Vaughn Gittin Jr. has won his share of trophies, but nothing compares to the one he captured on Saturday in the second event of the 2014 Formula DRIFT season at Road Atlanta.

The reason this victory means a bit more is that Gittin started his own race team last year and has taken a hands-on approach in building it from the ground up. From the crew to his easily recognizable Mustang, and even his on-site display at events, Gittin has been involved and while he went winless in his debut season as an owner/driver, he’s off to a good start in 2014.

“Winning tonight feels amazing and what feels even more incredible is the way that we won. We drove our hearts out. We fought as hard as we possibly could,” said Gittin. “I can’t thank my team enough. I can’t thank Ford enough for making an amazing Ford Mustang and Nitto Tire for the unbelievable tires that clearly separated us from the rest of the field.”

Gittin had an excellent start to the weekend with a third-place qualifying round after using his second chance run to boost him closer to the top, and then dispatched Geoff Stoneback in the Round of 32 before taking out fellow Ford driver Justin Pawlak in the Round of 16. Gittin bested Kenny Moen in the quarterfinals and then Robbie Nishida in the semi’s, which set the stage for his victory over Fredric Aasbo in the finals.

As a result, Gittin sits in second place in the point standings after Round 2 and trails leader Chris Forsberg by 27.50 points with five rounds remaining.

Pawlak, who had a rough time at Road Atlanta last year mostly due to the unpredictable Atlanta weather, qualified just behind Gittin this time around and beat Patrick Goodin in his first-round matchup before falling to Gittin in a classic duel.

The battle between both Ford drivers has happened in the past, but it’s safe to say that this one was the most closely contested. After their initial runs, the judges couldn’t choose a clear winner. The two drivers battled with their Mustangs two more rounds before Gittin was finally awarded the victory.

“I’m very happy with where our Falken Tire Ford Mustang is performance-wise,” said Pawlak. “We had the car setup we needed to be successful this weekend, and I think we showed it by taking Vaughn to two more ‘One More Time’ battles.

“I’m proud of my team for all their hard work and I appreciate Falken Tire for their continued support,” continued Pawlak, who is fifth in the point standings. “I’m not content with where we are in the standings and I’m looking forward to Round 3 in Miami to gain ground on the points leaders.”

Formula DRIFT will resume in Miami for their first time at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Round 3 | Miami Heat. You can check out the action LIVE at

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