F1 hopeful Jonathan Summerton left no one in doubt as to his speed and ability this weekend in the penultimate round of the Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. Summerton had a great weekend from the first practice to the...
F1 hopeful Jonathan Summerton left no one in doubt as to his speed and ability this weekend in the penultimate round of the Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. Summerton had a great weekend from the first practice to the winning of the race he dominated the competition and so moving into second place in the championship just 7 points behind the leader.
The weekend started slightly soggy after the horrendous rainfall the Atlanta area had the weekend before. Drivers only needed to make a slight error and they were on extremely slippery and soggy grass. Summerton was constantly in the lead position as the teams tried out different setup combinations.
A midday qualifying session took place in extreme heat, especially when combined with the high humidity which made just watching the session uncomfortable. The drivers must have certainly been sweating as they chiseled away at their lap times. The first half of the session Summerton was always in the top three as they ran their fuel down. Then, with several laps to go, he changed his tires and went out setting blistering times which at points were half a second faster than the others. As the session wound up it was the Newman Wachs cars in P1 and 2 with Summerton's 1.15.166 time a comfortable .2 in front of his team mate and .4 in front of Silvestro.
The Atlanta race was held on the Friday due to the ALMS race being all day Saturday, which, in looking back was good fortune as Friday's weather was beautiful and warm as compared to the ALMS Saturday's race in the wet.
The lights went out one by one and the engines started to rev bringing excitement to the whole track. When all out the cars set off with screeching tires trying to obtain maximum grip Summerton was away with a great start. Behind him Edwards struggled losing out to Silvestro as the cars went up the hill from turn one. Summerton was already pulling away and by the end of the first lap was already over a second in front. Each lap thereon Summerton pulled away. His domination could be seen each lap as he came down the hill and into the final corner his engine revving to the limit and tires on the edge in an artistic maneuver. Then on lap 19 there was a full course yellow caused by Car 17, Greg Mansell, having his engine catch on fire. This brought out the pace car and took away Summerton's 7 second lead. After a couple of laps the pace car pulled off and Summerton led the field to come down the hill and on to the start straight. The green waived and the pack was off again. Summerton got a good start and was already leaving the others by turn 2. 13 laps later the checkered waived as Summerton crossed the line with over a 4 second lead having lead every lap green to checkered, and Summerton set the fastest lap of the race (1m 15.563) on his last lap. Silvestro was 2nd and Edwards 3rd.
An exuberant Summerton jumped out of his car knowing he was back in contention for the championship. On the podium he thanked his team, then soaked his team owner, Eddie Wachs, and chief engineer, Don Halliday, with the champagne. Later Summerton sat down and commented on the weekend. "This was a really great weekend for Newman Wachs and me; fastest in practice, qualifying and the race, combined with a fantastic win. I want to thank the team and guys for giving me a great car and the opportunity to race. We are now going into the final round at Laguna in 2nd place in the championship just 7 points from the lead. I know we can win this championship with the #34 car!"