John Edwards Makes History as Youngest Podium Finisher in Atlantic History TORONTO, Ontario -- In January of 2004 on the historic road course at Daytona International Speedway, a skinny 12-year old kid from Little Rock, Arkansas became the ...
John Edwards Makes History as Youngest Podium Finisher in Atlantic History
TORONTO, Ontario -- In January of 2004 on the historic road course at Daytona International Speedway, a skinny 12-year old kid from Little Rock, Arkansas became the youngest winner in the history of the Skip Barber formula car racing series. Later that year after turning 13, the same young driver shocked the world as he won the 2004 Red Bull Worldwide Driver Search against a stout field of more experienced racers.
In 2005, the 14-year old teenager became the youngest driver in history to be granted an FIA Grade B racing license as he moved to Europe to participate in Formula Renault, winning his first race in the hyper-competitive series in 2006. Today on the treacherously wet streets of Exhibition Place near downtown Toronto, John Edwards (#7 Red Bull/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Cooper/Swift) reset the bar once again as the high-school student and star member of the Red Bull Junior Team took second place in the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto Atlantic race and, at 16 years of age, became the youngest driver in the star-studded 34-year history of Champ Car Atlantic to finish on the podium.
After starting sixth in the 23-car field as raindrops began to fall, Edwards quickly moved to third spot in two laps before a Red Flag came out as the rain intensified. After changing to treaded wet-weather Cooper Zeon tires along with the rest of the field, Edwards vaulted into second position while avoiding rain-induced carnage around him and surviving two aggressive pass attempts by his teammate, Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Cooper/Swift).
Wickens, who qualified in eighth spot but also showed his wet-weather expertise as the 18-year old Toronto native zipped through the field to third spot by the mid-point of the race, tried an optimistic pass on his younger teammate midway through the race and almost put both cars in the tire wall. Two laps from the end of the event Wickens once again tried a pass and came to grief, spinning and losing valuable positions en route to a seventh-place finish. Wickens retains third place in the season points while Edwards vaults to 13th, just four markers shy of the top ten of the 31-driver standings.
"When the raindrops started to fall I was happy because my time in Europe gave me quite a bit of wet weather experience and I enjoy driving in those conditions, but we didn't have time to make any adjustments to the car. Luckily no body else did either! I got a good start and moved up a couple of spots and then the rain got heavier and they stopped it so we could switch to wet weather Coopers. When we got restarted there was a big crash in front of me and that bumped me up to second -- I couldn't believe it! I tried to catch Franck (Perera) but he was pretty hooked up. Robert (Wickens) was close behind me -- I think he was probably a little bit faster -- but I had out-qualified him so I had the track position. He totally missed the braking zone for Turn 3 at one point but I saw him zooming up the inside so I gave him room and we managed to avoid contact. Then as we got down to the last couple of laps he closed in again and tried to get inside me at Turn 5 but I never saw him in my mirror. I turned in and my left rear touched his right front and he spun. It was kind of a crazy move but if I'd seen him coming I would have left more room because I would have had the inside line for the next corner anyway. I felt a bump and looked in my mirror and there he was, spinning out. But overall it was a good day for the Red Bull #7 and I'm stoked for Edmonton!"
"First I have to apologize to John and the team. My car was a little faster but both times I tried to pass I really shouldn't have. The first time I was way, way back and kind of misjudged my speed in the spray, and the second time I thought he saw me and was going to let me get alongside. But both times were pretty much screwups on my part and the only good news is that I didn't take him out. The worst thing you can do in this sport is take out your teammate and I almost did it twice in one race! Here I am contending for the Championship and I not only throw away a podium finish but let the points leader (Rafael Matos) get ahead of me in the process. But I'm happy for John and the team for getting another podium."
The series now heads west for the July 22 Rexall Grand Prix Edmonton, Round 9 as Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.