Daijiro Yoshihara won Saturday night's Formula Drift competition at Irwindale Speedway, but Samuel Hubinette had enough success to win his second season championship in the series' three-year history.
Hubinette needed to reach at least the semifinals Saturday to be assured of the title in the circuit where drivers intentionally maneuver their cars into controlled sideways slides at high speeds through a marked course and the winner is based on judges who evaluate drivers' execution and style.
Hubinette wrapped up the championship by defeating Kenji Yamanaka in the quarterfinals before he lost to Yoshihara in the semifinals. Hubinette, a Newport Beach resident, won third place by default after Tanner Foust was unable to compete in the semifinals because of damage his car sustained in a quarterfinal victory. Rhys Millen, the 2005 champion who entered Saturday's event in second place in the standings, lost to Yoshihara in the final.
"Tonight, Dai owned the track," Millen said of Yoshihara, who received $3,000 for the victory, his first on the circuit.
Hubinette received $10,000 for winning the seven-event series.
-- Steven Herbert