NWR HEADS TO SALT LAKE CITY FOR ROUND TWO OF ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP May 7, 2009 (Mundelein, IL) - Newman Wachs Racing drivers John Edwards and Markus Niemela are both winners at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP). Edwards dominated his Star Mazda race...
NWR HEADS TO SALT LAKE CITY FOR ROUND TWO OF ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
May 7, 2009 (Mundelein, IL) - Newman Wachs Racing drivers John Edwards and Markus Niemela are both winners at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP). Edwards dominated his Star Mazda race in 2008 and Niemela his Atlantic Championship race, both leading flag to flag. Edwards and Niemela each aim to win again, but only one will be triumphant at the 2nd round of the Atlantic Championship May 17 at MMP.
Edwards, at just 18, from Cincinnati, OH won the Star Mazda Championship last fall. In doing so, he earned the coveted MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development scholarship, which allowed him to move up to the Atlantic Championship. He won the season-opener at Sebring International Raceway in March, leading every lap on his way to the victory and the early points lead.
Niemela, 25, from Finland is the reigning Atlantic Champion, earning the title after a tough fight that was decided at the season finale at Road Atlanta last fall. He returns to the Series in 2009 seeking the one million dollar championship prize awarded to the winner, and is the first Atlantic driver to defend his title in a full-season effort in more than ten years. Round one at Sebring didn't fare so well for the young Finn, as he and another competitor tangled on the first lap, ending both of their days prematurely. Fortunately for Niemela, the Atlantic Championship Series allows each competitor to drop their worst finish, so the Championship is still within his reach.
Team owner Eddie Wachs naturally expects to see both of his drivers on the podium, although he doesn't care in which order they stand. He explains, "With John leading the Championship after his stellar performance in Sebring, we'd obviously like to hold on to that lead. Fortunately for Markus, the series will allow one race to be dropped, so he is very much still in the fight as well. Both of these drivers are capable of winning on any given weekend. It is important for NWR and our sponsors that we perform well and I have no doubt in my mind that we can deliver."
With two months between rounds one and two on the schedule, NWR took advantage of the down time and spent three days testing in preparation for the race at Miller.
Both drivers, with the unusual break, took full advantage off the track, focusing on those things that drivers always do: fitness and fun.
John is finishing up his final year of high school, and with all of the travel required of race car drivers, does his work online or with a tutor. When he is not at the track, he is spending his time catching up or getting ahead with his schoolwork and naturally, spending a lot of time in the gym.
Markus spends the race season in southern California, staying with NWR engineer, Nick Harvey. This is a perfect scenario for Markus, as it gives him access to the beach. Surfing, surfing, and more surfing - that's been at the top of the list. He's also been doing the usual training exercises, but something non-traditional to his routine is juggling. He even learned how to juggle with his eyes closed. Markus also designs and paints his own helmets and he is currently working on a new one. He also managed to squeeze in a 5K race…busy, busy!
John Edwards, #36 MAZDASPEED/ Nuclear Clean Air Energy/ Entergy/ Newman Wachs Racing:
"I'm excited to be going back to Miller, after winning last year's Star Mazda race there. It's a very cool track with a lot of fast corners and small elevation changes at just the right time. Although it is nothing like Sebring, we've been doing some testing on tracks similar to what we'll see at Miller, so I'm confident that we'll have a setup that's comfortable to me."
Markus Niemela, #1 Mr. Jones/ Nuclear Clean Air Energy/ Entergy/ Newman Wachs Racing:
"The beginning of my season has not been easy with my Sebring crash, but the team has been incredibly supportive and big thanks to everyone at NWR about that. I'm looking forward to get to drive again at Miller. It's a cool track although the layout we are using is different from last year. The team has been preparing for the event and it's very hard to imagine that any other team could have done a better job preparing than us. I have full faith that our team has more than the potential to be strong at Miller and all that is left is for me to get everything out of myself."