Edwards nails down first pole at Autobahn

John Edwards paced Friday's qualifying for race one of the double-header Atlantic Championship weekend at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., at the first professional road racing event in Chicago in over 40 years. At a time of 2:04.600,...

John Edwards paced Friday's qualifying for race one of the double-header Atlantic Championship weekend at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., at the first professional road racing event in Chicago in over 40 years.

At a time of 2:04.600, it is the first career pole for 18-year-old Edwards in his second season of Atlantic, coming at the Harrah's Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda.

"When I saw the number come up on the dash, I couldn't believe it," Edwards said. "The car has been great all day."

"It's not only my first pole, it's a pole by half a second. I can't say enough," he added. "The only word I could say when I came in the pits was 'awesome.' I mean, I was the only one in the 2:04s the whole session, and especially I got there quickly and could stay there longer than anyone could."

He also led the morning's practice session on the 3.56-mile road course at 2:05.539. In both cases, Edwards was the only driver in that second.

Simona de Silvestro, the series' points leader after winning three of the first five events, starts second in her Team Stargate Worlds entry. She got into the 2:05 range at 2:05.092 but it wasn't good enough to eclipse Edwards.

"It was a pretty tough session but I'm happy with starting P2, because I think it's pretty easy for somebody to do a mistake," de Silvestro said. "Maybe we can get a chance to pass in the race. Most importantly is to start on the front row."

De Silvestro is squeezed in a Newman Wachs Racing sandwich, as Jonathan Summerton of NWR starts from third. Summerton timed in at 2:05.594, nearly a second off his teammate in an almost identical setup.

"The car is fighting some bad understeer, it's bad loose," Summerton remarked. "I don't know what it is about this place. It's hitting the bumps really hard."

Summerton hoped to qualify on the front row but admitted he has not fully come to grips with the setup of his Newman Wachs car he piloted last year. He opened the first four races of 2009 driving for Genoa Racing.

Tonis Kasemets in the understaffed but not short on effort entry for Polestar Motor Racing rolls off fourth, with Frederic Vervisch of Genoa Racing completing the top-five on the grid.

The remainder of the trimmed 11-car-field reads Markus Niemela, Borja Garcia, Frankie Muniz, James Winslow, Max Lefevre and Michael Nacol.

Niemela is in his second start for Jensen Motorsport after starting the season with NWR. Conquest Racing and Polestar Motor Racing's second entry of Richard Zober are not present this weekend.

The first 45-minute Atlantic race here tomorrow rolls off at 2:05 p.m. local time, and the second is on Sunday. Qualifying for the second race takes place tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Richard Zober , Tonis Kasemets , Simona de Silvestro , Frederic Vervisch , James Winslow , John Edwards , Max Lefevre , Markus Niemela , Michael Nacol , Frankie Muniz
Teams Conquest Racing