Bomarito Becomes First Two-Time Atlantic Winner in '08 In the first race of a Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda doubleheader at the Road Race Showcase, American racer Jonathan Bomarito became the first two-time winner of the season at Road America.
Driving the No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments machine for Mathiasen Motorsports, Bomarito took the lead in the race’s standing start and led all but one lap en route to a 0.411-second victory over polesitter Dane Cameron. It was Bomarito’s fourth career Atlantic victory and was also his second win at Road America, where he claimed his first victory in the series in 2006. The result allowed Bomarito to move into third place in the championship standings and with 130 points, he now trails second place Markus Niemela by two points and he is just nine points in arrears of leader James Hinchcliffe.
“It feels amazing,” Bomarito said. “I love this track. There’s so much history and the racing always is amazing here. It feels great to be back up here. To be the first guy to win two races this year feels amazing. Hopefully, it’s not my last. Hopefully, we’ll keep this momentum going. I’m on the pole for tomorrow and Tonis (Kasemets) is right next to me. It should be an exciting one, for sure. We’re looking forward to it. We have a little bit of work tonight to do on the car and get a couple of little things a little better, and we’ll be strong tomorrow. My hat’s off to the whole Mathiasen Motorsports team. Every single session this whole weekend, starting on Wednesday when we had our three practice sessions, nobody’s made one single mistake. The car ran flawlessly and we’ve just been making small changes and making the car better and better every session. Big thanks to them. They’re making my job not easy, but easier.”
In the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing, Cameron was the only other driver in the field to lead a lap, which he did thanks to an outstanding move in the famed Canada Corner (Turn 12) on Lap 10 of the 18-lap race. However, Bomarito managed to return the favor on the next lap and Cameron was not able to mount another challenge. Nevertheless, the second-place performance by Cameron was a career-best for the Atlantic rookie, eclipsing a previous-best performance of fourth in Race #1 of the doubleheader at Edmonton two weeks ago. It was also the fourth consecutive top-five result for the 2007 Star Mazda champion and the performance moved him into a tie for fifth in the championship with Carl Skerlong.
“(Bomarito) definitely has a few more starts in these cars than I do and he got a bit better launch,” Cameron said. “I just chipped away at it and kind of reeled him back in a little bit. I was able to get a good run out of Turn 8 and was able still have good air going around The Carousel so I didn’t lose any ground. I was able to get him on the brakes going into Canada Corner and pulled away a little bit on the first lap, but not quite enough. He got another run on me, and did basically the same thing and got back by me. I was able to stay right with him, but he wasn’t making any mistakes and I made a couple of small ones. It was just too difficult to set him up for a clean pass.
“There were probably a couple of times where I could have thrown a dive bomb on him, but he was racing me real clean, so I was going to do the same. I just didn’t have quite enough to get back by him, but I’m still really happy to be on my first podium. It’s another in a string of top-five finishes and the team has been making some big strides. I’m really, really happy with the progress we’ve made and I’m hoping we can get back up on the podium tomorrow.”
In his first Atlantic start since last year’s season finale at Road America, Tonis Kasemets charged from eighth on the grid to finish third in the No. 17 Genoa Racing entry for TK Motorsports Inc. and also earned the bonus point for turning the race’s fastest lap at 2:00.942 (120.494 mph) on Lap 14. It was the first Atlantic podium for Kasemets since a second-place run in the 2005 season finale at Montreal, and Kasemets also won the 2005 race at Road America.
“It feels very good,” Kasemets said. “The race was a little bit crazy in the beginning. Obviously, all of the guys are a little bit calmer in the beginning, but we settled down and everybody got a rhythm going. My car was really good, and I was waiting and passing where I could make a clean pass. I caught up to the leaders and then I thought third place would be great for a start. That’s what I did.”
Skerlong rebounded nicely from a season-worst qualifying performance of ninth on Friday to take his fourth top-five result in six races this season in the No. 14 King Taco machine for Pacific Coast Motorsports. It was also his second straight top-five run at Road America, as he finished third in last year’s Atlantic finale in Elkhart Lake.
Hinchcliffe managed to retain the series points lead with a fifth-place performance after starting fifth in the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO machine for Forsythe/Pettit Racing. It was Hinchcliffe’s fifth consecutive top-five result and he has now finished inside the top 10 in all six races thus far in 2008.
• Finnish rookie Markus Niemela finished sixth in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting entry for Brooks Associates Racing and managed to extend his lead in the Rookie of the Year point standings. With 132 points, Niemela now leads Cameron by 25 points in the rookie standings.
• In his first Atlantic start of the season, Mexican racer David Martinez came home seventh in the No. 7 Axtel/Tecate/Madisa entry for Forsythe/Pettit Racing. Martinez is standing in for his countryman, David Garza, who is unable to compete this weekend due to a training injury.
• Simona De Silvestro battled back through the field after an opening-lap incident with her Newman Wachs Racing teammate, Jonathan Summerton, to finish 10th in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine. Summerton—who won last time out in the second race at Edmonton—was 19th in the No. 36 NWR entry.
• Venezuelan rookie Luis Schiavo picked up the best result of his season to date with an 11th-place run in the No. 46 Constructora Iriaca/Astaltatora Maracay/Transporte Jumbo/Energy Freight System machine for Eurointernational. Schiavo’s previous best result was a 14th-place performance two weeks ago in Race #2 at Edmonton.
• Rookie Leo Mansell earned the bonus point for improving the most positions from start to finish with a 14th-place run after starting 20th in the No. 15 Sunseeker machine for Walker Racing.
|| BEHIND PRIOR
|| Jonathan Bomarito
|| Tonis Kasemets
|| Markus Niemela (R)
|| Carl Skerlong
|| Tom Sutherland
|| James Hinchcliffe
|| Daniel Morad (R)
|| Dane Cameron (R)
||nathan Summerton (R)
|| Kevin Lacroix
|| David Martinez
|| Junior Strous
|| Frankie Muniz
|| Luis Schiavo (R)
||enri Karjalainen (R)
||ominick Muermans (R)
|| Greg Mansell (R)
||Simona De Silvestro
|| Douglas Soares (R)
|| Leo Mansell (R)