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Behind the Wheel with Austin Kregle: From sliding in Sin City to drifting Denver

Editorial Note: This is the second in a series of articles following Austin Kregle through the multi-state Formula Drift sanctioned 2016 Southwest ProAm series hosed by VegasDrift. Photography by Jose Pineda

[dropcap style=”style1″]O[/dropcap]ver 30 drivers competed in the first round of the 2016 Southwest ProAm series, held May 1, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among those drivers were several Arizona natives including Austin Kregle in his 1995 Nissan 240SX. Kregle was unable to qualify in the top 16 at this event but scored points put towards his over all standing in the series.

_DSC0637CSJ: The last time you competed in a ProAm event was in 2014, what was going through your mind before your first judged session this time around?

Austin Kregle: Don’t mess up and don’t spin! That’s exactly what I was thinking, and about the course, telling myself to not over shoot the first clipping point and get as close as I can to the rear clipping zone.

CSJ: With the clipping zones were on the forefront of your mind on the grid, had they been a challenge for you during your practice runs?

Austin Kregle: The first clipping point and speed were one of the biggest challenges I faced. I was struggling to find the correct line at the first clipping point which was critical because it set you up for the the rest of the course and if over shot, kills your momentum for the rest of the track.

I kept over shooting the first clipping point and I was not able to set myself up for the rest of the course. I was able to hit it a few times the way I wanted to during practice without over shooting it, but wasn’t able to do that on my qualifying runs.

I also did not have the speed needed, which I feel put me at a disadvantage during practice and qualifying.

Overall I felt like I did ok for round one. It was not as well as I had hoped, but I did not put the car into the wall and did not have any mechanical failures, so that is always good.

_DSC0990CSJ: In our last interview you had mentioned that you been to the Vegas track before but not on the layout selected for round one, do you think being on an unfamiliar track layout made driving in the event more challenging?

Austin Kregle: I really enjoyed the track in Vegas, it was a blast to drive! It was challenging to learn a new course in a short amount of time, however it was a lot of fun to learn and drive on a whole new layout compared to the same track I am familiar with in Arizona.

The Vegas track allows the driver to place the rear bumper right against the wall next to the judges and the last two corners allowed the following driver to suck into the lead driver for exciting tandem battles.

I was nervous coming into round one because I thought I knew what the track layout was going to be, which left little room for error before hitting the wall. I was defiantly relieved to know we would not be running that layout.

CSJ: While spotters are not required for the competition, Bryan Young was your eyes outside of the car during round one. How did he effect your performance on the track?

Austin Kregle: Bryan was the real MVP this weekend and helped out tremendously as well as my good friend Paco for letting us use his in-car radios. It was very beneficial to be able to have instant communication and feedback from him after every run.

Bryan is a fellow drifter and was great as my spotter because he knows what is going on inside the car as a driver. I can tell him what I am experiencing during my run and he suggested what I can do to correct my line, and changes I can make to the car to make sure I am competitive.

Having his point of view from outside of the car, he was able to tell me how close I am getting to the wall and how the run would look from where the judges are standing.

Bryan was also taking notes on every driver at the event so if I qualified he could tell me about their runs, like their speed, angle, and initiation point to make sure I have all the information I need to make the best possible lead and follow run to advance to the next round.

Spotters do so much work that most people don’t realize and get credit for.

_DSC0730CSJ: Having completed round one without qualifying but putting points towards your standing in the series, what is something you learned from this experience that can be applied to round two? 

Austin Kregle: After this event I was able to reflect on my driving and I learned that I need to step back and really evaluate my runs and do a better job of correcting the mistakes I make.  Now I know what I need to work on for the next round.

The car performed well during round one and I had fixed all the issues I talked about in the last interview before the event, however my spotter noticed I was much slower throughout the track compared to my competition. So I learned that I need to set up the car for more grip to allow the car to have more speed and control.

That is something that is being addressed now. It could be something I need to correct in my driving or changes that need to be made to the car, but driving new tracks gives me more experience which helps me progress as a driver and learn more car control.

I am going to make multiple suspension changes to the car to make more grip for round two and plan on drifting at a local event on May 14th to see if the suspension changes I make will improve grip and speed.

CSJ: We have talked about the challenges you encountered in round one and the things you learned, what are some of your highlights from the event? 

Austin Kregle: My first time competing in Vegas and I had some transmission issues, but was able to complete this event without any major mechanical issues which was a highlight.

The competition was awesome! All the drivers have a lot of skill and their cars are very well built. It was exciting to see my good friend, Andrew, make it into top 16, especially when he had an awesome battle with the number one qualifier.

Even though he lost to them, he did an amazing job. Multiple people, including myself, felt like ether driver could have advanced or at least gone one more time.

I just had a lot of fun this event and didn’t feel as nervous or stressed as I have in past competitions.

CSJ: As you continue to prepare for round two, is there anything you want people to know?

Austin Kregle: I just want to thank my sponsors Efficiency Mechanical, 2F performance, and Dyno Comp for the support this season, as well as all my friends and family who have helped me and came out to support me during round one.

Round two of the multi-state Formula Drift sanctioned 2016 Southwest ProAm series hosed by VegasDrift is scheduled for June 12 at the Colorado National Speedway in Denver. 

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