Jonathan Summerton won what was a battle of the three "J"s and the lady for the Pole in the 11th round of the Atlantic Championship series. The racer from Florida notched his fifth pole of the year which is record thus far this season with just...
Jonathan Summerton won what was a battle of the three "J"s and the lady for the Pole in the 11th round of the Atlantic Championship series. The racer from Florida notched his fifth pole of the year which is record thus far this season with just one round remaining.
"I definitely want to win the race," Summerton said. "I think we have a very good shot. Consistently, we've been quickest all week, so I'm really happy with the car. We can make some improvements. The temperature made a bit of a difference today with the car. It wasn't spot on what I would like it to be. It was the same for everybody. Really, I'm happy with everything."
Summerton sped past the fast lap of the provisional pole holder John Edwards to place himself on top but there was still time on the clock before qualifying would wrap up on his second set of tires. Sitting third was Jonathan Bomarito who returned to the series for the second time this year.
Points leader Simona De Silvestro found what she was looking for toward the end of the session and moved into second but Edwards replied back.
"We were comfortably ahead of Simona for most of the session and then on the second set of tires, I had a few problems in the first six or seven laps with some oversteer with the new rubber," said Edwards. "Finally, they started coming in and I started getting the times down and then Simona put one in on the second to last lap. I was told that she was ahead of me, so I pushed even harder and got her by a couple hundredths at the end. We want pole and we want the win, but the key is to stay ahead of Simona and that's where we are."
The stage is now set for Friday's race with the top three in the points taking up the first two rows: Summerton, Edwards, Silvestro. Not only were they the cream of the field but add Bomarito and only two teams covered the front rows.
With a hot lap of 1:15.166 (121.651 mph), Summerton adds one point to move within three points of his Newman Wachs Racing teammate, Edwards and sits 11 points away from the crown.
"Hopefully, tomorrow John and I can pull away," Summerton said. "The best would be for somebody just to jump in front of Simona for the championship for Laguna."
Edwards laid down his hot lap in the final minutes with a 1:15.345 (121.362 mph) to land on the front row.
De Silvestro ended up third in her Team Stargate Worlds Swift with a margin of only 0.012 seconds adrift of one of her rivals for the championship. Her best lap was a 1:15.357 (121.342 mph).
"I'm a little disappointed in this session, because the times are so close," said De Silvestro. "We were pushing hard, but we didn't quite feel the second set of tires as good as the first one. Maybe we lost a little bit of time there. The gap really shrunk between now and yesterday and the day before yesterday. It took me a little bit of time for me to get back into it after the crash in Mosport, and then we had kind of an engine problem, so I think that took us back because we were trying to figure gears out. I'm pretty happy."
Bomarito is not in the hunt for the title, having run only one event when the opportunity arose. Now he back again, this time driving the second Team Stargate Worlds car in place of Frankie Muniz at Road Atlanta. His best lap was 1:15.614 (120.930 mph), four-tenths of a second off Summerton's pace.
The title fight is between De Silvestro, Edwards and Summerton in the Swifts powered by Mazda Atlantic cars. The close battle for the champion in the longest-running open-wheel professional series in North America is normal and no doubt will end up again at the season finale, this year to be held at the Mazda Speedway Laguna Seca on October 11th.
"I know we have a really strong racecar, and I have to thank the whole team, because they put the car together really fast," De Silvestro said. "It's really competitive right away, so I'm really proud of them and I think we're going to have a really good race tomorrow."
The Atlantic field will take their standing start at 1:25pm (EDT) on the Petit Le Mans weekend at the Road Atlanta road course.