Summerton Quickest in Practice Day at Road Atlanta
In the first official practice day for Friday's Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race at Road Atlanta, Jonathan Summerton led another one-two sweep of the top two positions for Newman Wachs Racing.
Summerton posted the day's fastest lap at 1:15.446 (121.199 mph) in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine to lead the session. The 21-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla. brings considerable momentum with him to Road Atlanta, with victories in two of his last three series starts, including a win from the pole in the most recent round at Mosport last month. He is currently third in the championship standings and he is looking to erase a four-point deficit to teammate John Edwards and a 12-point disadvantage to points leader Simona De Silvestro.
“We've just been improving and improving and testing and testing,” Summerton said. “This is another test session. I'm very happy with the car. We've definitely improved a lot. Mosport was a great weekend for the whole team. I think here it's going to be a one-two again. I'm really confident in the car, so it's good.”
As he also did in the race at Mosport, Edwards was second to Summerton at the end of today's practice session with a best lap at 1:15.514 (121.090 mph) in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy entry. The tables were turned in the first session this morning with Edwards on top, and he heads into tomorrow's qualifying session looking to repeat his morning performance.
“Once again, it's Newman Wachs one-two,” Edwards said. “It's not quite the order I'd like, but nonetheless, we're ahead of Simona and we're hoping to keep it that way. So far in every practice, we've been ahead of her. That's our main objective right now. Obviously, Jonathan and I are in a very close points battle, so we're not going to concede to each other in any situation. But at the same time, we're still a good distance behind Simona, so our main goal is to out qualify and outrace her.”
In his first Atlantic Championship practice day since March, Jonathan Bomarito wound up third-quickest on the day at 1:15.596 (120.959 mph) in the No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Games/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds. Bomarito's quickest time of the day actually came in the morning session and was good for second at the time. The Californian is confident in his chances for the remainder of the week at Road Atlanta.
“It was good,” Bomarito said. “We tried a lot of things this session, a lot of ins and outs. The car is good, though. We've got a very solid car. With a half an hour session, we made a couple of big changes in between the first session and this one, and during a half hour session, you would lose too much time to put the car back. I know there's lap time if we just went back on a few things. We're solid. There's no practice or warm up tomorrow. We have qualifying and we just look at data and just keep doing the job we've been doing. I think we'll hopefully be on the front row tomorrow.”
Despite engine problems that limited her track time in the first session, De Silvestro came back in session two and posted the fourth-best time of the day at 1:15.698 (120.796 mph) in the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Games/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry. She heads into Friday's race looking for her series-leading fifth win of the season and has an outside chance at clinching the series championship in the penultimate round of the 2009 season.
The driver who won at Road Atlanta last year and clinched the series championship completed the top five in Wednesday practice, as Markus Niemela turned a best lap at 1:15.760 (120.697 mph). Niemela has finished inside the top five in each of his last three starts and is looking for his third career Atlantic win.