EDWARDS GRABS 2ND AT MILLER WHILE NIEMELA IS TAKEN OUT ON FINAL LAP Toole, UT (May 17, 2009) - Newman Wachs Racing drivers John Edwards and Markus Niemela had a tough task today at the 2nd round of the Atlantic Championship at Miller...
EDWARDS GRABS 2ND AT MILLER WHILE NIEMELA IS TAKEN OUT ON FINAL LAP
Toole, UT (May 17, 2009) - Newman Wachs Racing drivers John Edwards and Markus Niemela had a tough task today at the 2nd round of the Atlantic Championship at Miller Motorsports Park. Edwards started the race 4th, and Niemela 5th, but somehow, on the challenging course that presents very few passing opportunities, Edwards finished the race 2nd. Sadly, Niemela was on a strong run to 4th when he made contact with another competitor in the final lap.
Edwards, 18, from Cincinnati, Ohio made quick work at the start, making it three-wide with outside pole-sitter, Jonathan Summerton and Frederic Vervisch heading into the first turn. Edwards made it through cleanly, improving to 3rd after turn one and taking over the 2nd spot when Summerton had an off-course excursion the same lap. He maintained his position for the duration of the 31 lap race, not having the speed to chase down race-winner Simona De Silvestro. Edwards maintains the lead in the Championship standings after podium finishes at the first two races, including his first Atlantic win at Sebring in March.
John Edwards, #36 MAZDASPEED/ Nuclear Clean Air Energy/ Entergy/ Newman Wachs Racing:
"Simona (De Silvestro) was in control for the entire race. I realized I wasn't going to have anything for her, so I maintained control of my race in 2nd. I just couldn't catch her draft on the straightaway, and my car just wasn't good out in front. It was set-up for traffic, and the balance was off. I managed to hold off Vervisch at the end to finish 2nd. It was tough. Winning Championships is all about finishing on the podium and being consistent, and we have done that so far. We're starting off the right way, so I'm happy with that."
Reigning Atlantic Champion, Markus Niemela had a great start, but was forced to the dirt to avoid making the three-wide battle four-wide. He ran 6th for much of the race, and eventually chased down Frankie Muniz, passing him to claim 5th on lap 24. By lap 27, he was just two-tenths behind Borja Garcia. On lap 20, Markus attempted a pass heading into turn one, drafting by Garcia on the long straightaway, but the pass didn't hold, as Garcia got by him at the exit of turn one. Markus put his head down once again and completed the pass on Garcia this time into one. Unfortunately, Garcia hit Markus on the exit, sending both drivers into the gravel trap. It was a sad end to such a remarkable drive for the young Finn. Following the incident, and after officials looked at video, it was determined that Garcia made avoidable contact with Markus and was disqualified from the race. He was also given a two-race probation and a fine.
Markus Niemela, #1 Mr. Jones/ Nuclear Clean Air Energy/ Entergy/ Newman Wachs Racing:
"I'm very disappointed. In qualifying I had a good chance for the top three but I screwed it up with a spin and missed my best laps. In the race all I had to do was get a great start and then use the opportunities I had to overtake. I had a great launch from the starting line and was going for 3rd but got pushed off to the gravel on the start straight and dropped down to 8th. Then I started recovering again, and just passed for 4th on the last lap when Garcia hit my rear wheel on the exit of turn one which took us both out. He apologized, but that doesn't change the result."