Championship Chase Tightens with Autobahn Weekend Sweep for Edwards JOLIET, Ill. (July 26, 2009) - After scoring the maximum number of points available from the Harrah's Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda doubleheader John Edwards has ...
Championship Chase Tightens with Autobahn Weekend Sweep for Edwards
JOLIET, Ill. (July 26, 2009) - After scoring the maximum number of points available from the Harrah's Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda doubleheader John Edwards has dramatically tightened the race for the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda title.
Edwards completed his weekend sweep with another lights to checkered victory on Sunday in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing. It was his third victory of the season and also of his Atlantic career, and he is now tied with Simona De Silvestro for the series lead in 2009 victories. The 18-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio started from the pole position for both races of the doubleheader - the first two poles of his Atlantic career - and earned a total of 42 points from the weekend. He now trails championship leader De Silvestro by just five points, 119-114, with five races remaining.
"We had a problem in the first practice session (during Thursday's promoter test day) and only got two laps, but after every session since then, I've been quickest," Edwards said. "In this race, I was quickest on every lap until the last one, maybe two laps, when I lifted a bit and Simona did a 2:05.6, I think. That was the only lap that anyone was faster than me, and my engineer kept coming on the radio, telling me, ‘That's a good pace. You can slow down there and just hit your marks.' I told him, ‘I am hitting my marks. I'm cruising a little bit, just to be safe.' The car was just so hooked up this weekend. Even this race compared to yesterday's race, we just tweaked it a little bit and it was even better today. The car was a dream to drive. I have to thank the team a lot, because I couldn't have done this alone."
One day after finishing third in the first race of the Illinois doubleheader, De Silvestro earned her sixth consecutive podium result with a second-place run in the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry. As she did on Saturday, De Silvestro chased Jonathan Summerton in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine for much of the race. This time, however, the alternator failed on Summerton's car, enabling De Silvestro to move up one step on the podium. She finished 12.654 seconds behind Edwards, while Summerton was relegated to 11th in the final race standings.
"Especially after yesterday, because I did a mistake at the start, it was a little bit better," De Silvestro said. "Today, it was kind of the same race as yesterday, because I was stuck behind Summerton for most of it. I tried to push him every lap, but he never did a mistake. I got really lucky that something broke on his car and I finally could go by him. I really want to thank Team Stargate Worlds. It took us a little bit of time to get up to speed compared to the Newman Wachs cars, but I'm really happy with the car we had now. In qualifying, we didn't get such a good run and starting third, it's really hard to pass with these cars. I'm really happy with second, especially with collecting the points. A little bit of luck is also nice sometimes."
Summerton's heartbreaking mechanical failure also led to joy for Tonis Kasemets, who picked up his first podium of the year with a third-place run in the No. 35 Fatburner machine for Polestar Motor Racing. The Estonian who now lives 60 miles up the road in Mundelein, Ill. spent the entire race with his mirrors full of rookie Frederic Vervisch, but he managed to keep the Belgian driver at bay throughout.
"A podium is always nice," Kasemets said. "That's why we're here. We want to win the race. It's good to come with a third. We got a little lucky, but it's better to get lucky than smart any day. Yesterday, (Vervisch) got me on the start and we were joking that I have to get him today on the start. The chips fell my way. I started in his position and I got him on the start. He pushed me really hard all race long. On some parts of the racetrack, I was better than him and some he was better than me. We had really a fight for position between me and him. The Newman Wachs cars and Simona, they were in their own league, as always. We'll have to work hard to catch them."
Vervisch wound up fourth in Genoa Racing's No. 17 Quartier/Isomo/Shinokki entry. It was his fifth top-five result in seven starts this season and he now leads Borja Garcia in the Rookie of the Year point standings by 20 points, 84-64. Garcia finished fifth today in the No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us machine for Condor Motorsports. It was the Spanish driver's fourth top five in his last five starts.
* Defending series champion Markus Niemela brought the No. 1 Jensen MotorSport machine home in sixth place on Sunday. He dropped out with a mechanical problem after completing just one lap on Saturday.
* Frankie Muniz earned his second "Hard Charger" bonus of the season in the No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds. He earned a $1,000 bonus and an extra championship point for his efforts. He also took "Hard Charger" honors in May at Miller Motorsports Park.
* Eric Jensen was a late addition to Sunday's field in his No. 13 Jensen MotorSport machine. He finished 10th in his first Atlantic Championship appearance since last September at New Jersey Motorsports Park.