Hinchcliffe Seizes Series Lead Exiting Edmonton Edmonton, Alberta (July 26, 2008) -- Canada's James Hinchcliffe reclaimed the points lead of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda courtesy of a ...
Hinchcliffe Seizes Series Lead Exiting Edmonton
Edmonton, Alberta (July 26, 2008) -- Canada's James Hinchcliffe reclaimed the points lead of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda courtesy of a second consecutive third place podium finish, and third top-three of the season, as Round 5 on Saturday concluded the double-header race meeting at the Rexall Edmonton Indy in Alberta.
James exits Edmonton leading the title chase on 118 points, five scores ahead of Finland's Markus Niemela in second. Today's result marks the second time this season the 21-year-old Toronto racer has led the Driver Standings, the first time following his victory in Round 2 at Laguna Seca.
Hinchcliffe, competing for Forsythe Pettit Racing, headed into this morning's 45-minute race at the Rexall Speedway just one point in arrears of then series leader, Niemela (94-93). Both racers finished on the podium in Friday's fourth round, Hinchcliffe starting from pole, but it was California's Jonathan Bomarito who scored the win ahead of his Finnish and Canadian rivals.
Round 5's qualifying outing again saw 'Hinch' claim top Canadian honours, this time setting the fourth fastest time of the session, while America's Carl Skerlong topped the timesheets for his first career Atlantic pole. When the green flag dropped it was Skerlong's fellow countryman Jonathan Summerton who took the lead with Carl second and James taking third before a full-course caution curtailed the opening lap action.
Lap five's restart saw Dane Cameron get the jump on Hinchcliffe but it proved to be short lived as James quickly steered the #3 INDECK/TireRack.com Swift Mazda-Cosworth back into third. As was the case with the previous day's race, the front-end action was relentless around the 1.973-mile temporary road course. 10 laps in and less than a second covered the top three with James just seven tenths of a second behind second placed Skerlong at the half-way marker.
With passing opportunities proving limited, such was the level of competition at the front, Summerton, Skerlong and Hinchcliffe held station through to the checkered on lap 36. Summerton, a rookie, becomes the fifth different winner in five Atlantic starts this season while James' third podium in four starts allowed the Canadian to reclaim the points lead he had initially held entering Canada for Round 3 at Mont-Tremblant last month.
"It feels good to have the points lead again but make no mistake it's incredibly tight at the top," said Hinchcliffe. "I made a good start and was in the hunt initially but once again I had my mirrors full of Jonathan Bomarito's car behind in fourth. We held on to take the podium and as a Canadian competing in Canada it was great to be back there for a second day in a row. I'm looking forward to our next double-header and hopefully maintaining the series lead now that I've got it back!"
The 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda returns to the United States for a second-straight double-header race meeting with Rounds 6 and 7 of the 11-race series hosted at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Friday 8th -- Sunday 10th August -- www.roadamerica.com