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Haugen earns first place finish for Southwest Drift, Round Three

[dropcap style=”style1″]M[/dropcap]att Haugen emerged victorious in his thousand-horsepower Hyundai Genesis, securing first place in Round Three of the 2016 Southwest Drift series hosted by VegasDrift after a head-to-head battle with the days’ number one qualifier, Andy Hateley, in his supercharged LS3 BMW E30.

_DSC8156“It was awesome winning in my home state,” Haugen told Car Street Journal, adding the win “couldn’t have been more perfect because more of my friends and family were able to make it and it was fun to really put a show on for them.”

Having lost to Haugen, Hateley secured a second place podium finish while Arizona driver, Andrew Schulte, earned the final podium position in his LS2 powered 1993 Nissan 240SX after a battle with Mike Burns.

“We needed to hold it down for the Arizona drift scene and that’s exactly what we did with two of the podiums won by Arizona drivers” Haugen said.

Despite Round Three attracting many Arizona drivers to the Tucson track, qualifying in the Top 16 proved challenging as many drivers faced mechanical issues and were met with double zero scores. As a result, only 15 drivers progressed to the Top 16. The Top 16 was further reduced to 14 eligible drivers after Nick Gross, the 12th place qualifier, suffered mechanical issues during practice prior to the start of the tandem battles and was unable to compete.

The Top 16 –

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In the first Top 16 tandem battle of the night, Preston Watson hit the safety barrels and tire wall along the first portion of the track which led to his one-more-time battle with Tony Chard, however chaos ensued from the get-go as Chard nearly crashed on initiation. With both drivers holding a zero score, Chard managed to pull a gap on Watson in the final run of the battle allowing Chard to progress.

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Mike Burns managed to put a gap between himself and Javier Martinez in his lead run of the nights second tandem battle and showed strength in the chase position as Burns stayed with Martinez throughout the course resulting in Burns progression to the great eight.

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Schulte’s first battle of the night was with fellow Arizona drifter, DJ Lloyd. Despite Lloyd’s car making a considerable amount of alarming sounds, the pair earned a one-more-time battle, of which Schulte was victorious.

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Blake Olsen pulled a large gap and dominated the seventh place qualifier, Zach Messiner, in the fourth tandem battle of the Top 16, resulting in Olsen moving forward to the great eight.

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The Mustang appeared “hangry” as it went off course towards a crowd of people upon initiation in the chase position during the fifth battle of the night, however driver Carlos Reyes managed to salvage the run but was unable to keep up with Seth Wright in his BMW. Wright suffered issues on the initiation in the chase position leading to the two drivers participating in a one-more-time battle that resulted in Wright’s advancement to the great eight.

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Bear Rzesnowuecky passed Haugen in the first run of the final Top 16 battle after it appeared Haugen missed a shift on initiation causing Rzesnowuecky to rear into him. Rzesnowuecky appeared to initiate early while in the lead on the second run of the battle causing both cars to spin, resulting in an automatic one-more-time battle.

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Rzesnowuecky called a time out after the first run of the OMT due to an oil leak but was unable to resolve the issue resulting in Haugen advancing.

Automatic advancements to the great eight included Hateley due to being the events number one qualifier and without a 16th qualifier to battle, in addition to George Kiriakopoulos who would have battled Nick Gross had he not suffered mechanical issues.

The Great Eight –

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Hateley took on Chard in his first battle of the night and emerged victorious as Chard was underpowered and unable to keep up on Hateley’s lead run, resulting in Hateleys advancement.

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Kiriakopoulos went against Burns in the second battle of the great eight where Burns pulled a gap during his lead run and Kiriakopoulos made a slight correction on one of the curves. In the chase position, Burns stayed on Kiriakopoulos’s door and progressed to the final four.

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Olsen missed initiation and went off track in the chase position during his battle with Schulte and didn’t finish the course. Having suffered mechanical issues throughout the day, Olsen chose not to participate in his lead run and ceded the win to Schulte.

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The final battle of the great eight resembled that of David and Goliath as Wright ran clean runs in the lead and chase position against Haugen, challenging him to a one-more-time battle which resulted in an additional one-more-time battle that saw Haugen advance to the final four.

The Final Four –

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Hateley pulled a slight gap on Burns in the first run of the first battle of the final four, however Burns managed a gap of Hateley resulting in a one-more-time battle. Burns had a slightly slow initiation in the chase position, but Hateley straightened out slightly with Burns in the lead resulting in an additional one-more-time battle.

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Hateley managed to pull a gap on Burns during the second OMT battle but Burns managed to close the gap and stay on his door. In the chase position Hateley stayed on Burns throughout the track resulting in Hateleys advancement.

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Schulte and Haugen had clean runs in their final four battle but Haugen managed to pull a gap on Schulte resulting in Haugen’s advancement.

The Battle for Third –

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Having lost to Haugen, Schulte went head-to-head with Burns in a battle for the events third place finish. Qualifying higher then Burns, Schulte led the first run and which saw a slight correction made by Burns.

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Determined to secure the win, Schulte initiated right next to Burns in the chase position and stayed on his door the remainder of the course resulting in his third place finish.

The Battle for First –

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On a seemingly even playing field, Hateley and Haugen battled each other for the first place finish. Haugen applied pressure with Hateley in the lead, whom called a time out at the conclusion of the first run but was unable to secure the win in the chase position resulting in a second place finish, and Haugen as the Round Three winner.

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Photography by Hans Marquez

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