Edwards Scores Second Atlantic Victory In the first Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race of the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda doubleheader, John Edwards picked up his second series victory and led a 1-2 sweep for Newman Wachs Racing on the team’s home turf.
Edwards started from the pole position in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine and led every lap, beating teammate Jonathan Summerton to the stripe by 6.486 seconds to get the win. It was the first 1-2 sweep for Newman Wachs Racing – which is based some 60 miles from Autobahn Country Club in Mundelein, Ill. – in three and a half years of Atlantic competition. The team was formed prior to the 2006 season by late actor Paul Newman and longtime Chicago-area racer Eddie Wachs.
It was Edwards’ first Atlantic win since taking the season opener at Sebring in March and was his fourth podium result of the season, allowing him to move into sole possession of second place in the championship standings with half of the 12-race season now in the books. Edwards will also start tomorrow’s second half of the doubleheader from the pole position.
“It’s never easy, but I definitely had a handle today,” Edwards said. “Once my tires came up to temperature, the car was great and I just kept pulling away and gapping the field up to four or five seconds, I think. Once I got the gap, I just kind of cruised trying to maintain the same lap time. Anytime I heard someone was faster than me, I was able to go even faster the next lap. I’ve got to say, I’m a little bit disappointed that Jonathan got fast lap there on the last lap when I decided to lift since I had a four or five second gap. I think we could have pushed and challenged him for that, but good on him for doing that and I’m really happy for Eddie Wachs and the whole Newman Wachs team. It’s their first 1-2. I couldn’t say enough about the team. It just shows through in the results, how good a job they’re doing.”
Summerton came home second in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI car to score his fourth podium result of the season. However, it was the first podium for Summerton – who drove the first four races of the 2009 season with Genoa Racing – since rejoining Newman Wachs Racing prior to last weekend’s round at Lime Rock Park. Summerton drove for Newman Wachs throughout his rookie Atlantic campaign last year and earned five podium results, including three victories. He starts second in tomorrow’s race.
In addition to the second-place race result, Summerton also earned the $1,000 “Hard Charger” bonus and an extra championship point for moving from third on the starting grid to second at the finish and was the highest finisher among the drivers who improved one spot. Summerton gained the spot after Simona De Silvestro – who started second – jumped the race start and was ordered to surrender her position. That occurred on the second standing start of the race, as a malfunction with the lights required the initial start to be aborted.
“Definitely, with the light situation there at the beginning, it was a little bit of a hiccup there for everyone,” Summerton said. “My first start was really, really good. I was really on the ball. Then, the second start, I just didn’t get enough wheel spin. The car bogged down and I almost lost a position. It was a little scary at the beginning, but I guess Simona jumped the start and basically we took advantage of that. I was able to drive away from there and come back up and do that fastest lap at the end. The car’s just really good.”
De Silvestro kept the pressure on Summerton throughout the 45-minute race but was never able to retake second place. She settled for third in the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry for Team Stargate Worlds and retained the lead in the championship standings by 10 points, 103-93, over Edwards at the halfway point of the season, with Summerton another four points behind Edwards in third. It was De Silvestro’s fifth podium result in six races this season.
“I jumped the start, so I kind of threw myself off a little bit there,” De Silvestro said. “I had to give my position to Summerton. Our car is doing pretty well, so I could keep pressure on him, but unfortunately, he drove a great race. He didn’t do any mistakes. I was hoping every lap that he’d maybe drop a wheel or something. He was very quick. I’m pretty happy with third place. I think we have the car to keep up with John. For tomorrow, I need to just try to get a really good start and move up a few positions. I’m happy for taking the points today. I didn’t do any mistakes today or throw off the car or something, so I’m pretty happy with third place.”
Belgian racer Frederic Vervisch came home fourth in the No. 17 Quartier/Isomo/Shinokki machine for Genoa Racing to earn his fourth top-five result of the season. He leads the Rookie of the Year point standings by 18 points, 72-54, over Condor Motorsports driver Borja Garcia (No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us), who finished sixth today. Tonis Kasemets earned his third top-five result of the season with a fifth-place run in the No. 35 Fatburner entry for Polestar Motor Racing. Kasemets, who is originally from Estonia, now makes his home in Mundelein, Ill.
Race #2 of the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda will also air live on HDNet. The network’s coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Race results for Round 6 of 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda at Autobahn Country Club, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown or country, car number, team and laps completed:
1. (1) John Edwards, Cincinnati, Ohio, No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing, 20.
2. (3) Jonathan Summerton, Kissimmee, Fla., No. 34 Newman Wachs Racing, 20.
3. (2) Simona De Silvestro, Switzerland, No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds, 20.
4. (5) Frederic Vervisch (R), Belgium, No. 17 Genoa Racing, 20.
5. (4) Tonis Kasemets, Estonia, No. 35 Polestar Motor Racing, 20.
6. (7) Borja Garcia (R), Spain, No. 6 Condor Motorsports, 20.
7. (8) Frankie Muniz, Scottsdale, Ariz., No. 77 Team Stargate Worlds, 20.
8. (9) James Winslow (R), United Kingdom, No. 19 Genoa Racing, 20.
9. (10) Max Lefevre (R), France, No. 7 Condor Motorsports, 20.
10. (6) Markus Niemela, Finland, No. 1 Jensen MotorSport, 1.
(R) Series Rookie
Time of Race: 46:19.472
Average Speed: 92.219 mph
Margin of Victory: 6.486 seconds
Lap leaders: Edwards, 1-20.
Lead changes: None.
Unofficial Series Points Leaders: 1. De Silvestro, 103; 2. Edwards, 93; 3. Summerton, 89; 4. Vervisch, 72; 5. Garcia, 54; 6. Kasemets, 52; 7. Niemela and Muniz, 40; 9. Winslow, 36; 10. Lefevre, 24.
Next Race: Autobahn Country Club, Joliet, Ill. – Sunday, July 26.