Series news and notes 2009-12-16

News, Notes and Quotes from Around The Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda * After a history-making 2009 Atlantic Championship season in which she became the winningest woman in series history, Simona De Silvestro ...

News, Notes and Quotes from Around The Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda

* After a history-making 2009 Atlantic Championship season in which she became the winningest woman in series history, Simona De Silvestro had a successful two-day test in an HVM Racing/Team Stargate Worlds IndyCar at Sebring International Raceway last week with an eye toward a possible run in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. "She was very impressive," said HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins. "From the first laps, she showed she was capable of driving the car fast and she progressed rapidly. She was fast, consistent and gave good driver feedback. In fact, by the second half of the first day, we were so comfortable that we began working on development of our 2010 program using her feedback. By Day 2, I think everyone forgot she wasn't a seasoned professional. Everyone enjoyed working with her." De Silvestro won four races and finished third in the 2009 Atlantic Championship standings. She owns a total of five career Atlantic race victories.

* One of the leading contenders for the Atlantic Championship in each of the past two seasons, American Jonathan Summerton, got some seat time in an FIA Formula 2 racecar last weekend at the Algarve circuit in Portugal. The one-day test was the first taste of the turbocharged F2 machine for the Formula 1 hopeful. "The cars have a lot less downforce than the Atlantics but have good power," Summerton said. "It was very hard to get used to the turbo lag. The test was good, but it was challenging on new tires when the car changed loads. It was fun."

* The Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda had a strong presence at last week's Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Orlando. Series officials were on hand throughout the three-day show at the series display, which also featured an Atlantic Championship show car. Representatives from all Atlantic series partners and many past, present and future drivers were also in attendance.

* Atlantic Championship graduate Simon Pagenaud got a new ride for 2010 on Monday when it was announced that the 2006 Atlantic champion will join David Brabham as co-drivers of the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01c in the American Le Mans Series. Pagenaud joins the team after driving for de Ferran Motorsports for the past two seasons. Brabham and his 2009 co-driver, Scott Sharp, won the 2009 American Le Mans Series LMP1 championship.

* One of the most high-profile Atlantic Championship graduates is moving into the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2010 as it was announced last week that Danica Patrick will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in selected events before, after and in between her full-time commitment in the IZOD IndyCar Series in the No. 7 Honda Dallara for Andretti Autosport. Patrick is expected to make her stock car racing debut at Daytona International Speedway on February 6 in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 for the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards.

* Eight Atlantic Championship graduates participated in a two-day Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Cask No. 16 test at Daytona International Speedway last week in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 30-31, 2010. The Atlantic grads entered for the test were defending Rolex 24 overall race winner Buddy Rice, who also won the 2000 Atlantic title and the 2004 Indianapolis 500; 2003 Atlantic champion and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger; 1999 Atlantic champion Anthony Lazzaro; multiple-time Atlantic race-winners Michael Valiante and Memo Gidley; and former part-time Atlantic competitors Guy Cosmo, Andy Lally and Bill Auberlen. Last year, 27 former Atlantic competitors competed in the prestigious endurance race.

* Past and present Atlantic drivers were recently part of a unique, 25-driver lineup in the No. 26 Mazda MX-5 Miata at the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) 25 Hours of Thunderhill on December 5-6. Included in the lineup were 2009 Atlantic drivers Simona De Silvestro, Frankie Muniz and John Edwards, and 2008 Atlantic competitor Dane Cameron. The team finished 22nd overall and sixth in the E1 class. Among the overall winners of the race was 2002 and 2004 Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty in the No. 75 Mercer Motorsports Porsche.

* Atlantic graduate J.R. Hildebrand was impressive in a recent three-day test aboard the Force India Formula 1 machine at Spain's Circuit de Jerez. Hildebrand, who finished 10th in the 2007 Atlantic Championship with Newman Wachs Racing, ran a total of 142 laps in testing from December 1-3. He also won the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights title.

* Three Atlantic graduates will again be part of a powerhouse lineup for the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona, as it was recently announced that Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and Jimmy Vasser will share the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley with four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson for the prestigious twice-around-the-clock event on January 30-31. It will be the third consecutive year that the foursome will share the No. 99 machine. Fogarty is a two-time Atlantic champion and Vasser is one of the winningest drivers in Atlantic history, and both were members of the 35th Anniversary Atlantic Championship All-Star Team. Second-generation racer Gurney was also a top Atlantic competitor and has joined forces with Fogarty to win two Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype titles, in 2007 and 2009, while Vasser is also the 1996 IndyCar World Series champion. The group is still looking for its first Rolex 24 victory but finished second in 2008.

* Quote of the Week: "Atlantic was a really important part of my career to give me a lot of seat time and to teach me about a car with downforce and with grip. Most importantly, it put me in a competitive situation where you have to train yourself to function in that situation and make the best of it. It was very good teaching for me. There's never been a lack of talent to come through Formula Atlantic, that's for sure. A lot of people that I was racing against then are still having successful careers. That speaks volumes." - Danica Patrick

-credit: ac

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Alex Gurney , David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Jimmie Johnson , Bill Auberlen , Michael Valiante , Guy Cosmo , Anthony Lazzaro , Andy Lally , Buddy Rice , Simon Pagenaud , Jonathan Summerton , J.R. Hildebrand , John Edwards , Danica Patrick , Frankie Muniz
Teams Force India , Andretti Autosport , HVM Racing , JR Motorsports