EDWARDS VICTORIOUS AT ATLANTIC SEASON OPENER IN SEBRING Sebring, FL (March 20, 2009) - It was a bittersweet day for NWR. On the positive side, driver John Edwards led flag to flag of the season-opener at Sebring International Raceway, scoring...
EDWARDS VICTORIOUS AT ATLANTIC SEASON OPENER IN SEBRING
Sebring, FL (March 20, 2009) - It was a bittersweet day for NWR. On the positive side, driver John Edwards led flag to flag of the season-opener at Sebring International Raceway, scoring his first Atlantic victory in style. On the other end of the spectrum, teammate Markus Niemela tangled with another competitor on the end of the first lap heading into turn 17. He got upside down into the tire barrier in spectacular fashion, but despite the obvious soreness following an accident, he was unhurt.
Edwards, 18, from Cincinnati, Ohio, started on the outside front row for today's race. He got a good jump on pole sitter Jonathan Summerton and led every lap. He was not challenged for the lead following the re-start and eventually pulled out a 4.7 second gap to second place. In addition to winning the race, John also earned the bonus point for turning the fastest lap and obviously takes an early lead in the Championship standings.
Edwards is the reigning Star Mazda Champion, and earned one of the coveted MAZDASPEED Motorsports driver development scholarships for his efforts last year. This allowed him the opportunity to make the move up to Atlantics with NWR for the 2009 season. He has made a statement with this win and is already proving to be a winner.
For the defending Atlantic Champion, Markus Niemela, his birthday did not have such a happy ending. After starting 6th, Markus was racing his 2008 Championship rival Jonathan Bomarito into turn 17 and the two came together. Markus's car was sent flying into the tire barrier upside down and came to a rest in a mass of rubber on his roll bar. Fellow competitor Bomarito got out of his damaged race car and went to the aid of Markus. He assisted the corner workers in getting Markus right side up and out of the car. This act of unparallel sportsmanship did not go unnoticed and is a sign of a first-rate competitor. Markus was transported to the local hospital for precautionary purposes, but after undergoing a CAT-scan and several x-rays, he was released Friday evening. Fortunately, under the new rules, each competitor is allowed to drop one race, so Niemela will still be in the Championship hunt.
John Edwards, #36 MAZDASPEED/ Entergy/ Nuclear Clean Air Energy
""It was an incredible feeling just pulling into pit lane and seeing all of the cameras coming to me. It was a great race. I have to thank my engineer, Nick Harvey, and the team for putting the car together, because it was really easy to drive. Luckily, I had the teammates (Genoa cars) racing behind me, so I got to pull out a little more of a gap. From there, I just kept looking forward and pulling a gap.""
Newman Wachs Racing heads into its fourth year of competition in the Atlantic Series in 2009. In its three years of competition, NWR has earned 1 pole position, 4 victories, 7 podium finishes, and 11 top-fives.