Summerton Wins in New Jersey for Third Career Atlantic Championship Victory
MILLVILLE, N.J. (June 13, 2009) - Rising American racing star Jonathan Summerton returned to Victory Circle for the first time since last August and brought Genoa Racing its first Atlantic win since 1994 in the first race of the Mazda Formula X presented by Cooper Tires at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Saturday afternoon.
Summerton started Genoa Racing's No. 19 Barker Specialty/Geller Group/Genoa machine from the pole position and led lights to checkered flag en route to a 7.334-seconds victory Simona De Silvestro. It was Summerton's third career Atlantic Championship victory, and his first since winning the second race of a doubleheader at Road America last year. It was Genoa Racing's first win since 1994, when Greg Ray drove a Genoa Atlantic machine to Victory Lane at The Milwaukee Mile. Summerton starts second in tomorrow's second half of the Mazda Formula X doubleheader.
"I never dropped a wheel or anything, so lucky for me," said Summerton. "The car was great all the time. We had a good start. The track was a lot slipperier than I think all of us expected, so the first lap was a little crazy. Of course, me not having anybody to reference off, it was a little loose and a little bit hairy at times. By the second lap, I was used to everything and just put my head down and tried driving away."
De Silvestro took her second consecutive podium result with a second-place run aboard the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds after winning the last time out at Miller Motorsports Park last month. It was De Silvestro's third career podium result in Atlantic competition and moved her into a 47-47 tie for the series points lead with John Edwards after three of 12 races. De Silvestro starts from the pole position in tomorrow's race.
"It was a little bit of a hectic race for me. My start wasn't the greatest, so (Frederic) Vervisch got by me in the first corner, so I was third, and I was trying to keep up with them. Then, my gearbox was playing a little bit badly and my second gear got stuck in Turn 10 and I went through the grass. Borja (Garcia) got me there, but my car was really good so I could pass him again, and then Vervisch had a little bit of a problem. I think Team Stargate Worlds did a really great job, and I'm just happy to get the points today. I hope to win tomorrow."
Heralded rookie Borja Garcia earned his first career Atlantic Championship podium with a third-place performance in the No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us machine for Condor Motorsports. Garcia came out on top in the best battle of the race, which also included Newman Wachs Racing teammates Edwards and Markus Niemela. Expectations were high for Garcia at the start of the season after he was quickest in preseason testing at Palm Beach International Raceway, and he delivered on those expectations today.
"I'm really happy," said Garcia. "After the first two races, I had a lot of bad luck, especially in the races and finding the setup. Now, I think I'm in the correct line for the setup. It's my first podium and I'm really happy to be here for my team, Condor Motorsports and also the Cooper Tires Atlantic Championship. I'm really happy. I need to work really hard, because after the first test in Palm Beach, the car also worked really good, but after the first and second race, I didn't find the correct setup, Today, the car is good, not perfect, but I think the key to my race was the start. I did a really good start. Also, I tried to finish on the podium in the race."
Niemela, the defending series champion, came home fourth for his best result of the season in the No. 1 Mr. Jones/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NWR machine. Edwards completed the top five in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine with a fifth-place run after starting eighth. He also earned the championship point and $1,000 "Hard Charger" bonus for improving the most positions from start to finish. The race was run without a full-course caution.
* Running unopposed for the second consecutive race, Michael Mallinen was the C2 class winner in the No. 71 Mallinen Properties entry for Swan Racing. Mallinen completed 24 laps before retiring due to contact with Michael Nacol in the No. 3 Jensen MotorSport machine.
"I had never been to the track previously," Mallinen said. "It's my first time here and it's a great place. I really enjoy it. Yesterday, we had a lot of rain, of course, so there was not a lot of time to get in there and get some good laps in. It ran good today. The Cooper Tires were great, and the car ran good. I tried to chase down my Swift 016 compatriots and was giving it a good whirl. One of them spun in (Turn) 1, just as I was trying to overtake him, and I just couldn't get around him and that was the end of our day. I'm just happy to be here."
* Contact on the last lap of the race between James Winslow in the No. 18 CARS Motorsport/Genoa machine and Frankie Muniz in the No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies car drew a post-race penalty for Winslow, who crossed the finish line in eighth place, one spot ahead of Muniz. The finishing positions of the No. 18 and No. 77 cars were reversed per Race Director Terry Dale for avoidable contact.
* Dale also penalized No. 17 Roularta/Isomo/Genoa driver Frederic Vervisch two positions on the starting grid for tomorrow's race for interference during qualifying, putting the Belgian rookie fifth instead of third. He finished seventh in today's race.
Next Race: New Jersey Motorsports Park - Sunday, June 14.