ROCKINGHAM — The third round seems to be the charm for Brandon Goodman.
Goodman, of Burlington, slid his way to the winner’s bracket Aug. 14 in Round 3 of MB Drift’s competitive season — Battle of Little Rock at Rockingham Speedway.
Both of Goodman’s wins with the grassroots series each have their own firsts: last year was his first competition with MB Drift; this year was his first time on the Little Rock track.
“I just think I got lucky today,” he said after popping the champagne cork and accepting the $500 payout.
Heading into the third round, Goodman was third in points and qualified fifth for the competition.
Following three elimination bouts — starting with 31 drivers — Goodman, along with Dan Stoneburner, Joe Busam and Paul Smith, made it to the final four.
Busam, who was the top qualifier for the weekend, won Round 2 in July and was the Round 4 and season champ in 2021. He was ninth in points leading up to the event. The Ohio native now lives in Fuquay-Varina.
Smith, a California native now living in Charlotte, has been drifting for about a decade. He ran in one competition last year and competed in Round 1 this year, having to sit out Round 2 because of work.
Stoneburner, of Elgin, South Carolina, previously placed second and third in MB Drift championships with a different car as well as winning several other competitions — but has yet to reach the podium since the series made Rockingham Speedway its new home last year.
The year he finished second, he won every round in which he competed. However, skipping one comp put him behind in points. The very first year he competed he placed third for the season.
Both Busam and Smith drive a Nissan 350Z, and Goodman and Stoneburner drive a Nissan 240SX — both popular models for grassroots drifting.
Goodman said his car “seems pretty sound right now” after his differential went out at Hot Summer Nights, causing him to crash into Justin Bauer and his clutch burned out at another drift event within the past month.
Goodman slid past Busam to face Stoneburner, who knocked out Smith, to take the top prize. Busam and Smith then battled it out for third place and free entry, with Busam winning.
The winners weren’t announced until the podium ceremony.
“I’m glad I made it,” Stoneburner said about his second-place finish, which earned him $250. “Some of the guys I had to go against are killer freakin’ drivers.”
On his way to the top, Stoneburner out maneuvered Derick Gaskins, Tevin Baysa and Nick Abbott.
“There was a stacked group and a bunch of cars got taken out early,” Goodman said.
Wade Smith, who qualified second and was fifth in points, blew a tire at the beginning of his second run against Tevin Baysa and Nathan McDuffie had to bow out on his first run against Darin Onorati.
Points leader Justin Bauer, who qualified 20th, was eliminated in the first round by Devin Bruce, who started at 13th. Bauer came in second last month.
“I hate it for ‘em — but you know we’re all sitting there crossing our fingers,” Goodman joked, adding, “We’re all family here.”
Goodman took out his OK Drift teammate Kyle Vanderpool before facing off against Busam.
His tandem runs in the competition didn’t come without a few “love taps” — bumping against Vanderool, Stoneburner and Joshua Buster.
“From where we come from at Piedmont (Dragway), that’s normal — we run into each other,” Goodman said. “Just look at the car, it’s beat to hell.
“It’s all love taps — no hate involved, whatsoever.”
One thing Goodman said he liked about the Little Rock is that he only had to use one set of tires, as did Stoneburner — who usually runs on used tires.
“I wish I could say that about the infield over there,” Goodman said.
Even without the covered pits, Goodman said he likes Little Rock better.
Stoneburner disagrees and prefers the road course.
“This one, I feel, is definitely favored more toward higher powered cars,” Stoneburner said. “It’s a fast course — it’s fun, don’t get me wrong — but you’ve got to carry a ton of speed, especially when you’re going into this bank.”
Stoneburner said he struggled with the course the previous day because his car doesn’t have the power to maintain the drift and push up the banked corner in third gear. However, he found out — by accidentally forgetting to shift — by staying in second gear.
“Once I figured that out and then I figured out where I needed to add my power, the car … I felt like it did pretty good,” Stoneburner said.
Goodman said he also learned the same lesson.
“When you come out of the hairpin and you want to try to gain momentum, it’s hard because most cars are running out of gear and they’re having to go to third gear,” Goodman said. “I figured out that was my strong point, if I would just stay in second, foot to the floor, I would almost see the car in front of me go into third gear and they would lose a bit of momentum and that’s where I would gain all the proximity.”
Another reason Stoneburner prefers the road course is that he likes tight, technical courses which take more driver skill.
“A bigger course, to me, is more of a car thing … it takes both in any of them, but … a small, tight course is much more of a driver course,” Stoneburner said. “No matter how much power you’ve got, we can both run the same line, the same course, and it equalizes everything.”
With Sunday’s win, Goodman moves to the top of the leaderboard, followed by Busam (2), Abbott (3), Wade Smith (4), Bauer (5), Dustin Walker (6), Vanderpool (7), Andy Wright (8), Drake Carter (9), and Gaskins (10).
Stoneburner is 12th and Paul Smith is 22nd.
Goodman gave appreciation to his main sponsor, OK Drift, for giving him a place to work on the car and towing his car to the track. He said he is also on a contingency program with Tire Streets.
He also thanked his wife, Ariel, who supports him — even changing tires while pregnant.
With the baby due in December, Goodman plans to take a hiatus from drifting.
But first, he has the fourth and final round Sept. 17-18.
“Hopefully I can get this last championship … let the baby grow up and put them in the driver’s seat when they get old enough.”
See more photos from the final four and podium ceremony below.
NOTE: This story was updated to change one word. 11:02 a.m. 8-19-22.