Summerton Leads Practice Day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif. (October 9, 2009) - With preparations well underway for Sunday's 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season finale, Jonathan...
Summerton Leads Practice Day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. (October 9, 2009) - With preparations well underway for Sunday's 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season finale, Jonathan Summerton is exactly where he wants to be at the end of the first practice day, at the top of the charts.
Summerton posted a best lap at 1:15.701 (106.429 mph) in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine for Newman Wachs Racing and was the only driver to break the 1:16 barrier in practice. The 21-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla. is currently second in the championship standings, trailing Simona De Silvestro by seven points, 176-169. He has won both of the last two races and three of the last four, and another strong performance this weekend could net him the title.
"Definitely the car is improved," said Summerton, who was third quickest in the morning practice session. "We're trying different things and that session was very productive. We did fastest lap, but we've still got a lot more in the car. I can tell that. I'm just really happy to be up front with the guys. They've done a great job. I'm looking forward to qualifying."
Second quickest on the day was De Silvestro's Team Stargate Worlds teammate, Jonathan Bomarito, who turned a best lap at 1:16.017 (105.987 mph) in the No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Games/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry. The Monterey native is making just his third Atlantic start of the season and is filling in this weekend once again for the injured Frankie Muniz. However, he is obviously no stranger to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and is focused on going for the victory in Sunday's race.
"My role is to win the race, really," Bomarito said. "The team wants me to be as fast as possible. They're giving me a good car. We struggled a little bit in this morning's session, but this afternoon, we were right there. We're making big strides. We're kind of already into the fine-tuning mode now, because tomorrow morning, first thing, is qualifying. There were only two practice sessions today and it really forced you to be on your game. I wish we were a little closer in the first session, because I think that would have put us even a little further along still, but we'll work hard tonight and we'll be good tomorrow. We're going to go for the pole."
Summerton's Newman Wachs Racing teammate, John Edwards, was third on the time charts with a lap at 1:16.086 (105.891 mph) in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy ride. Edwards is also mathematically eligible for the championship, trailing De Silvestro by 10 points and Summerton by three going into the race on Sunday. He is also looking for his fourth victory of the season on Sunday, which would tie him with both De Silvestro and Summerton for the series lead in that category.
"We started out the session on top for the first half and then we were fighting a little bit of understeer even when we were P1," said Edwards, who was quickest in the first practice session of the day. "We tried to make some changes that didn't work out, and unfortunately it's a really short session, so we couldn't go back. We definitely learned something and I'm looking forward to qualifying and going for pole."
Belgian Frederic Vervisch, who has already sewn up Rookie of the Year honors and fourth in the overall championship, was fourth quickest today in the No. 6 Condor Motorsports machine. Vervisch posted a best lap at 1:16.281 (105.620 mph). De Silvestro completed the top five in the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Games/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry at 1:16.531 (105.275 mph). De Silvestro can clinch the championship outright with a second-place result or better on Sunday.