Utah: Round 10 preview

2008 Atlantic Championship Still Up for Grabs as Series Makes First Visit to Utah INDIANAPOLIS (September 17, 2008) - Six drivers are still in mathematical contention for the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by ...

2008 Atlantic Championship Still Up for Grabs as Series Makes First Visit to Utah

INDIANAPOLIS (September 17, 2008) - Six drivers are still in mathematical contention for the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda as the series makes its inaugural visit to the 4.5-mile Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City for Sunday's SunRichGourmet.com 1000.

American Jonathan Bomarito continues to lead the season standings, but saw his lead reduced from 28 to 16 points over American rookie Jonathan Summerton at last weekend's Mazda Formula X event at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Bomarito, who drives the No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments machine for Mathiasen Motorsports, has finished inside the top 10 in eight of his nine starts this season and leads the series with three victories. Bomarito leads Summerton, 204-188, in the season standings.

Summerton, meanwhile, has come on strong of late in the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing entry. The rookie from Kissimmee, Fla. has finished on the podium in his last three consecutive races and four of his last five to position himself as a legitimate championship threat with a maximum of 68 points still available. Summerton also leads the Rookie of the Year point standings by six points, 188-182, over Markus Niemela.

Driving the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing, Niemela heads into the weekend looking to become the seventh different driver to win a race this season, which would be one shy of the Atlantic record of eight different drivers to win in a single season in 1982. The Finnish racer has finished outside the top-seven positions only once in nine starts thus far and has finished second three times this season, including last weekend at New Jersey.

Buoyed by top-five results in his last two Atlantic starts, second-year driver Junior Strous heads to Utah sitting fourth in the season standings. The driver of the No. 6 NEM/Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz entry for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland earned his first career Atlantic victory in June at Mont-Tremblant and currently trails Bomarito by 38 points.

A dominating performance, which yielded his first career last weekend in New Jersey, vaulted American Carl Skerlong into fifth in the championship. Skerlong has been one of the quickest drivers in the series throughout the season in the No. 14 King Taco machine for Pacific Coast Motorsports and he has finished inside the top five in six of his nine starts this season. He is just one point behind Strous and 39 out of the lead entering the weekend.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe also remains in championship contention, 44 points in arrears of Bomarito. Hinchcliffe opened the season with top-10 results in each of his first seven starts-including a victory in Round 2 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca-before finishing 16th or worse in his last two starts. He will look to regain his early season form this weekend in the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO machine for Forsythe/Pettit Racing.

Rookie Dane Cameron is the top-ranked driver to be eliminated from championship contention, but the American has been quick all year and has finished inside the top five in five of his nine starts this season. The driver of the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing is another prime candidate to join the list of race-winners this weekend.

Ditto for Canadian Kevin Lacroix in the No. 25 Uni-Select/Deans Knight/Wasteco entry for Walker Racing. Lacroix picked up his third top-five result of the season last weekend at New Jersey and has finished seventh or better in five of nine races. He has already shown his ability to win in Atlantic competition, as evidenced by his victory last year at Portland, and he heads into the weekend looking to recapture that magic.

Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro-the only woman in this weekend's Atlantic field-was the first winner of the 2008 season when she claimed the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach in April. De Silvestro returns to the cockpit of the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing looking to add a second victory to her Atlantic resume.

Two drivers who joined the series in progress could also contend for the victory this weekend. Mexican racer David Martinez will make his fifth start aboard the No. 7 Axtel/Tecate/Madisa entry for Forsythe/Pettit Racing in relief of his injured countryman, David Garza. Martinez has finished inside the top-eight spots in all four of his Atlantic starts this season. American Tom Sutherland, meanwhile, picked up a career-best Atlantic result of fifth last weekend at New Jersey and has finished inside the top 10 in three of his six starts since rejoining the series at Edmonton. Sutherland will pilot the No. 88 ClickAway Computers & Networking machine for Brooks Associates Racing.

Actor-turned-racer Frankie Muniz heads to Miller Motorsports Park carrying the momentum of his second top-10 result of the season with a 10th-place run last weekend in New Jersey. Muniz will drive the No. 41 PCM/USRT entry for Pacific Coast Motorsports looking to move into the top 10 in the championship standings.

Rookie Greg Mansell is another driver carrying some momentum this weekend after finishing a career-best seventh last weekend in the Mazda Formula X. The son of 1992 Formula 1 World Champion and 1993 IndyCar champion Nigel Mansell will drive the No. 5 Sunseeker machine for Walker Racing alongside his brother, Leo Mansell, who is entered in Walker's No. 15 Sunseeker machine.

Dutch rookie Dominick Muermans heads to Utah looking to meet or exceed his previous best Atlantic result of fifth, which he achieved in May at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. He will drive the No. 9 Hugenholtz Property Group/Jumbo Supermarkten/Muermans Group machine for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland. Brazilian Douglas Soares completes a three-car entry for the Condor Motorsports operation, as he will again pilot the No. 11 Banco BMG machine. Soares is looking for the first top-10 result of his Atlantic career this weekend.

Finnish rookie Henri Karjalainen will again pilot the No. 2 Everyman/LTC Rakennus machine for Jensen MotorSport and is looking for his second top-10 result of the season. He finished 10th last month at Trois-Rivieres.

All Atlantic race cars are 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 new Cooper Atlantic racing slicks and rain tires throughout the weekend.

After a promoter test day at Miller Motorsports Park on Thursday, the official weekend schedule for the Atlantic Championship gets underway on Friday with practice from 12:00 to 12:50 p.m. MT on Friday afternoon and First Round Qualifying from 4:20 to 4:50 p.m., with Final Qualifying schedule to run from 8:55 to 9:20 a.m. on Saturday morning. Sunday's race day schedule includes a warm-up from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m., followed by Round 10 of the 11-race Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, the SunRichGourmet.com 1000, at 2:30 p.m. MT. The timed race will be 50 minutes in length and will feature a standing start.

Live Timing & Scoring data from every on-track session is available on the official web site of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, www.atlantic-championship.com.

SUNRICHGOURMET.COM 1000 FAST FACTS

WHAT: SunRichGourmet.com 1000

WHERE: Miller Motorsports Park - Tooele, Utah

ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND SCHEDULE (All times local, MT):

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 - Practice, 12:00 - 12:30 p.m.; First Round Qualifying, 4:20 - 4:50 p.m.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 - Final Qualifying, 8:55 - 9:20 a.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 - Warm-up, 9:30 - 10:00 a.m.; Race, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

TRACK LAYOUT: 4.5-mile Permanent Road Course

RACE LENGTH: 50 minutes

RACE ROUND: Round 11 of the 11-race 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda

NEXT RACE: October 3 -Road Atlanta; Braselton, Ga.

COOPER TIRES PRESENTS THE ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA SUNRICHGOURMET.COM 1000 PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK

* Jonathan and Jonathan: Lately it's been good to be an American driver named "Jonathan" in the Atlantic Championship. Jonathan Bomarito (No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments) has taken over the championship lead on the strength of victories in Race #1 of the doubleheaders at Edmonton and Road America, and the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Rookie Jonathan Summerton (No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing) won Race #2 of the Edmonton and Road America doubleheaders, finished second at Trois-Rivieres and third last weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park. He is currently second in the overall championship standings and leads the Rookie of the Year point standings. Bomarito and Summerton are the only two drivers in the 2008 Atlantic Championship with multiple victories.

* Miller Motorsports Park Hosts First Atlantic Race: This weekend features the second consecutive new race on the 2008 Atlantic Championship schedule as the series makes its first visit to the 4.5-mile Miller Motorsports Park circuit near Salt Lake City, Utah. Last weekend, the series paid its first visit to New Jersey Motorsports Park.

* And Down The Stretch They Come: This weekend's SunRichGourmet.com 1000 is the penultimate round of the 11-race 2008 Atlantic season. Bomarito currently leads Summerton by 16 points, 204-188, followed by Markus Niemela (No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting) with 182 points. Junior Strous (No. 6 NEM/Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz) is fourth with 166 points, with Carl Skerong (No. 14 King Taco) just one point back in fifth. Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe (No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO) is sixth with 160 points and is the final driver still in mathematical contention for the championship.

* 35 Years and Counting: The 35th Anniversary celebration for the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda continues with this weekend's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Through the years, the Atlantic series has seen more than its share of legendary drivers pass through the series on their way to greatness, from Formula 1 superstars such as Gilles Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg and Jacques Villeneuve to IndyCar racing heroes such as Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Michael Andretti, Danny Sullivan, Sam Hornish Jr., Dan Wheldon and Buddy Rice. This year, Atlantic graduates will compete for race victories and championships in top-tier North American series such as the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Atlantic has earned the distinction of being North America's longest-running driver development series, and also one of the best.

* International Flair: This weekend's race will feature drivers representing eight different countries. The United States is best represented with a total of six drivers; followed by Canada, Finland, England and The Netherlands with two each; and one each from Mexico, Brazil and Switzerland.

* Rookies Aplenty: This weekend's field will include eight rookies. The first-year drivers are Henri Karjalainen (No. 2 Everyman/LTC Rakennus), Greg Mansell (No. 5 Sunseeker), Niemela, Dominick Muermans (No. 9 Hugenholtz Property Group/Jumbo Supermarkten/Muermans Group), Douglas Soares (No. 11 Banco BMG), Leo Mansell (No. 15 Sunseeker), Cameron and Summerton.

-credit: atlantic championship

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Nigel Mansell , Dan Wheldon , Danny Sullivan , Gilles Villeneuve , Buddy Rice , Keke Rosberg , David Martinez , Jonathan Bomarito , Kevin Lacroix , Junior Strous , Tom Sutherland , James Hinchcliffe , David Garza , Leo Mansell , Greg Mansell , Dane Cameron , Dominick Muermans , Carl Skerlong , Henri Karjalainen , Markus Niemela , Douglas Soares , Sam Hornish Jr. , Frankie Muniz