De Silvestro Brings Points Lead to Chicago for Doubleheader

Fresh off her third victory of the season last weekend at Lime Rock Park, Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Simona De Silvestro brings her points lead with her to the Chicago suburb of Joliet, Ill. for this weekend’s Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda doubleheader. Both races will be televised live on HDNet beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 25 and 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 26.

Last weekend, De Silvestro earned her second straight victory and third in the past four races in the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds to extend her lead in the championship to 17 points (89-72) over Newman Wachs Racing teammates John Edwards and Jonathan Summerton. The victory was the fourth of De Silvestro’s Atlantic Championship career, moving her past Katherine Legge and making her the winningest female driver in the 36-year history of the series.

What De Silvestro would really like, however, is to become the first woman to win the Atlantic title. She still has a long way to go to accomplish that goal, as the series hits the halfway point in the 12-race campaign following Saturday’s race and kicks off the second half on Sunday. That also leaves plenty of time for the likes of Edwards, Summerton and the rest of the series to mount a challenge for the championship.

Driving the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy entry for the Mundelein, Ill.-based Newman Wachs Racing, Edwards picked up his third podium result in five starts this season with a second-place performance last weekend at Lime Rock. That run moved Edwards – who led the championship through Round 3 at New Jersey – back into second place in the point standings. The 18 year old from Cincinnati, Ohio won the 2008 Star Mazda championship and opened the 2009 season in Sebring with his first career Atlantic victory.

Edwards makes up half of a formidable duo at Newman Wachs. Summerton rejoined the team at Lime Rock after driving the first four races of the season for Genoa Racing and finished fourth in his first NWR start since the end of the 2008 campaign. With that race in his rearview mirror, the 21-year-old Formula 1 hopeful from Kissimmee, Fla. heads to Chicago hoping to drive the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine back to victory circle. Summerton owns four career Atlantic victories, including the second race of a doubleheader at New Jersey last month.

A pair of European rookies head to the Windy City looking for their breakthrough Atlantic victories this weekend after showing plenty of speed through the first five rounds of the season. Belgian Frederic Vervisch has finished on the podium in three of his five Atlantic starts in the No. 17 Roularta/Isomo/Genoa Racing entry and has started from third on the grid in four of the season’s first five races. With 60 points, Vervisch trails De Silvestro by 29 points in the overall championship, but leads Spanish racer Borja Garcia by 14 markers in the race for Rookie of the Year honors.

For his part, Garcia has also begun to turn it on of late in the No. 6 machine for Condor Motorsports. Garcia has finished third in two of his last three Atlantic starts, including a third-place performance at Lime Rock last weekend. Both he and Vervisch also have an advantage of sorts this weekend in that it will be the first visit to Autobahn Country Club for everybody in the series, putting them on a level playing field with even the most veteran drivers in the series.

One of those veterans, Tonis Kasemets, will undoubtedly have some strong “hometown" support as the Estonian driver has made his home in Mundelein, Ill. for many years. He returns to the cockpit of his No. 35 Fatburner entry fielded by Polestar Motor Racing fresh from his second fifth-place performance of the season last weekend at Lime Rock. He is looking for his fourth career Atlantic victory this weekend.

Another driver to keep a close eye on this weekend is defending series champion Markus Niemela in the No. 1 Jensen MotorSport machine. The Finnish racer moved to the Jensen team just prior to last weekend’s race at Lime Rock after contesting the first four races of the 2009 campaign with Newman Wachs Racing. He put the car fourth on the starting grid before an early problem in the race relegated him to a ninth-place race result. He will look to rebound this weekend.

While his teammate has grabbed plenty of headlines through the first half of the 2008 campaign, Team Stargate Worlds driver Frankie Muniz is no stranger to the spotlight himself as a television and movie star. Now in his third year of Atlantic competition, Muniz is clearly focused on building a career in racing and will again pilot the No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine this weekend at Autobahn. He earned the best result of his Atlantic career to date with a fourth-place run at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City in May.

English rookie James Winslow heads to Autobahn on the heels of a career-best seventh-place performance at Lime Rock last weekend. He is once again entered in the No. 19 CARS Motorsport/Genoa Racing car and is currently ninth in championship points. Winslow sits one spot ahead of French rookie Max Lefevre in the point standings. Lefevre will drive the No. 7 DOTMOBIL machine for Condor Motorsports this weekend. Yet another rookie in this weekend’s field is Michael Nacol, who is competing in his first year of professional racing this season. Nacol drives the No. 3 Jensen MotorSport entry.

All Atlantic racecars this weekend will utilize Swift 016.a Atlantic chassis powered by 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth MZR engines capable of speeds in excess of 175 mph. Each entry will ride on Cooper Atlantic racing slicks and rain tires throughout the weekend.

After a promoter test day on Thursday, the weekend schedule will see Atlantic machines on course for practice on Friday morning from 9:55 to 10:35 a.m. CT, followed by qualifying for Race #1 from 3:55 to 4:35 p.m. On Saturday morning, the Atlantic machines take to the Autobahn circuit for Race #2 qualifying from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m., followed by Race #1, which rolls off from a standing start at 2:05 p.m. Sunday’s second race of the doubleheader also starts at 2:05 p.m. local time and both races will be 45 minutes in length.

In addition to the live race telecasts on HDNet, live Timing & Scoring data, news and photos from throughout the weekend are available on the official website of the Atlantic Championship at Updates will also be available throughout the weekend via Twitter (, the Atlantic Championship Facebook page ( and the series’ official YouTube Channel at


WHAT: Atlantic Championship – Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda
WHERE: Autobahn Country Club – Joliet, Ill.

ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT SCHEDULE (All times local, CT): FRIDAY, JULY 24 – Practice, 9:55 – 10:35 a.m.; Qualifying for Race #1, 3:55 – 4:35 p.m. SATURDAY, JULY 25 – Qualifying for Race #2, 9:00 – 9:30 a.m., Race #1, 2:05 – 2:50 p.m. SUNDAY, JULY 26 – Race #2, 2:05 – 2:50 p.m.
TELEVISION: Race #1 – HDNet, LIVE, 2:00 p.m. ET.
Race #2 – HDNet, LIVE, 1:00 p.m. ET.

TRACK LAYOUT: 21-turn, 3.56-mile Permanent Road Course

RACE LENGTHS: 45 minutes each

RACE ROUNDS: Rounds 6 and 7 of the 12-race 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda

NEXT EVENT: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – August 8.

• Here We Come: This weekend’s doubleheader at the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda marks the first visit to Autobahn Country Club in series history. The series last raced in Illinois at Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero in 2002. Current IndyCar Series star Ryan Hunter-Reay won that race.
• Everybody Gets A Mulligan: The 2009 Atlantic Championship features a new wrinkle in the way the championship will be decided, as all drivers will earn points from their best 11 finishes in the 12-race season.
• On The Road Again: The 12-race 2009 Atlantic Championship schedule brings the series to many of North America’s most revered road racing circuits. The series shares seven race weekends with the American Le Mans Series at Sebring International Raceway, Miller Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Mosport International Raceway, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Atlantic series is the “headline" attraction in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and in doubleheader weekends at New Jersey Motorsports Park and Autobahn Country Club in suburban Chicago.
• Local Favorites: The lone driver from Illinois in this weekend’s Atlantic field is Tonis Kasemets in the No. 35 Fatburner machine for Polestar Motor Racing. The Estonia-born driver makes his home in Mundelein. Also based in Mundelein is Newman Wachs Racing, which field entries for Jonathan Summerton (No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI) and John Edwards (No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy). The team was founded by late actor Paul Newman and team co-owner Eddie Wachs.
• International Flair: This weekend’s race will feature drivers representing eight different countries. The United States is best represented with a total of four drivers with one each from Finland, Spain, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Switzerland.
• Rookies Aplenty: This weekend’s field will include five Atlantic Championship rookies. The first-timers are Michael Nacol (No. 3 Team Jensen), Borja Garcia (No. 6, Max Lefevre (No. 7 DOTMOBIL), Frederic Vervisch (No. 17 Genoa Racing) and James Winslow (No. 19 Genoa Racing).

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