Summerton Shines in St Petersburg
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.--Jonathan Summerton enjoyed an outstanding debut last weekend (April 3-5) in the Firestone Indy Lights Series, finishing second on Saturday and fourth on Sunday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Summerton, the 20-year old from Kissimmee, Fla., started from the sixth starting position in the 27-car field in Saturday's season opener on the 1.8-mile street circuit.
The RLR/Andersen Racing driver, Jonathan Summerton,passed James Hinchcliffe on the start, James Davison in Turn One on lap 15 and J.R. Hildebrand on a restart on lap 22 to move up to second place behind Junior Strous, who finished ..7205 of a second in front of Summerton.
"I stayed clean on the start and just paid attention to where everyone was going," Summerton said. "It was chaos. You could see it coming. Then I basically kept following Junior (Strous). Each pass he made, I just kept following him. It was really good. I think we had the quicker car, but in the end following him was a little rough asI lost some of the downforce on the car and he didn't make any mistakes. All in all, I'm quite happy with second place. It was an exciting race."
Summerton started 16th in Sunday's second race and drove maturely and patiently, wanting for clean opportunities and staying out of trouble.
When most of the field took the inside line going into Turn One following the start, Summerton went to the outside and emerged in 10th place and passed one more car to move up to ninth by the end of the opening lap.
"At the start everyone went to the inside, so I went to the outside. A gap opened up at the apex of Turn One and I jut went flying in. I saw an opening and I went for it."
In a race with multiple incidents of contact from overly aggressive driving, forcing six full-course cautions for 18 laps, Summerton didn't allow any cars to pass him and drove around the trouble ahead to finish fourth.
"The yellows helped because the restarts gave me opportunities to pass," Summerton said." I made a few passes during the race, too, and ended up behind Jay Howard for quite a few laps. We finally got by him (on lap 26) when Hildebrand and Ana Beatriz had their contact and we were up to fourth.
"It was awesome, tons of fun. We went from 16th to fourth. I don't think you could have asked for much more. My goal was a top-five and we did it. We had a car that I know could have won the race. It's just a shame we couldn't get clear air to run the lap times, because I know we had the fastest car out there.
"Allied Interior Products and RLR/Andersen Racing have done a good job putting the car together. I really thank them this weekend. We started off rough and ended on a high."
Summerton ranks second in the championship with 72 points. Strous also won Sunday's race and he's the points leader with 100.
"I'm very proud of the way Jonathan managed the race," team co-owner Dan Andersen said. "He showed great maturity and racecraft to take the car form 16th place to fourth. We could ask for no more of Jonathan. He is an exceptional driver."
Summerton's hopes to find sponsors so he can drive the nextIndy Lights raceon April 19 in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.).