Daijiro Yoshihara crowned 2011 Formula Drift champion

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Formula Drift headed to Irwindale Speedway to decide who would be crowned the 2011 champion in front of a sold-out crowd. Going into the event, the title race was the closest it had ever been with Falken Tire teammates Daijiro Toshihara and Justin Pawlak separated by just 12.75 points. Each driver had two wins and three podiums this season, leaving the final event to decide the title.

Initially, it seemed that Yoshihara had blown his chances when Ken Gushi knocked him out of the round of 16, leaving it up to Pawlak to claim the championship for his own. Pawlak failed to capitalize in the next round, though, when he tagged the wall during his second run and was beaten out by fellow Falken driver Darren McNamara. The final points tally had Yoshihara just 5.75 points ahead of Pawlak, the closest finish in Formula Drift's history. This is the first championship for the Japanese native, who is an eight-year veteran of the series.

"It's a great feeling and a dream come true," said Yoshihara after the event. "After eight years of driving it finally paid off. I owe a lot to my team and sponsors. My new goal will be to defend the championship and win it outright during the event."

You can see our images from the final Formula Drift event of the season at Irwindale Speedway in the gallery above.

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