Edwards Leads Atlantic Championship Into First Doubleheader of 2009 Season at New Jersey

Edwards Leads Atlantic Championship Into First Doubleheader of 2009 Season at New Jersey

11.06.2009: The 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season springs back into action this weekend with not one, but two races on New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway

The 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season springs back into action this weekend with not one, but two races on New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14, as the headline attraction of the Mazda Formula X presented by Cooper Tires.

Both races will be televised live on HDNet as part of tripleheaders from New Jersey that will also include two other series in the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Lader, the Star Mazda Championship and the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. Television coverage gets under way beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on both Saturday and Sunday.

Sitting at the head of the points table by five points (36-31) over Simona De Silvestro after two of 12 rounds in the 2009 Atlantic Championship is a product of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder, 2008 Star Mazda champion John Edwards of Cincinnati, Ohio. The 18-year-old driver of the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing has scored podium results in both races thus far, including a dominating victory in the season opener at Sebring International Raceway and a second-place run last month at Miller Motorsports Park.

Edwards is no stranger to success at New Jersey Motorsports Park as he won the first race of a Star Mazda doubleheader at the venue last year. It was one of four Star Mazda victories in 2008 for Edwards, which he parlayed into the series title and a full-time ride in the 2009 Atlantic Championship. While Edwards visited Victory Circle at NJMP last year, he has his work cut out for him if he is to do it again this weekend.

In the last Atlantic round at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City last month, De Silvestro put together a thoroughly dominating weekend in her No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds to earn her second career Atlantic victory. The 20-year-old Swiss racer also claimed her first Atlantic pole position in Utah and became the first woman in the 36-year history to win a race from the pole position. De Silvestro finished 11th in her maiden Atlantic visit to New Jersey last year.

De Silvestro’s impressive showing accounted for only half of a celebration for Team Stargate Worlds, as the team’s other driver, actor-turned-racer Frankie Muniz, posted the best result of his Atlantic career with a fourth-place performance in the No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry. Muniz, who was born in nearby Wood-Ridge, N.J., finished 10th in last year’s inaugural Atlantic race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

A three-car entry from Genoa Racing will also be a force to reckon with in both races of the Formula X doubleheader. Leading the way for the Genoa brigade is Belgian rookie Frederic Vervisch in the No. 17 Genoa Racing entry. Vervisch has a pair of podium results to show for the first two starts of his Atlantic Championship career. Vervisch finished second in the Sebring opener and third at Miller Motorsports Park, and heads to New Jersey looking to reach the top step of the podium.

Vervisch leads the Rookie of the Year point standings by 17 points (30-13) over British racer James Winslow, who will make his first starts as a member of Genoa Racing in the team’s No. 18 machine this weekend. Winslow, who is driving for his third different team this season, finished eighth in each of his first two Atlantic starts, at Sebring with Conquest Racing and at Miller with Jensen MotorSport.

The third member of Genoa’s assault is none other than 2008 Atlantic runner-up, Jonathan Summerton, who is entered in the team’s No. 19 Barker Specialty machine. Among the Atlantic drivers entered this weekend, Summerton had the highest finish in the 2008 race in New Jersey, finishing second to winner Carl Skerlong. He has started both races from the front row this season, including the pole at Sebring, and is a threat to win at any time. He is currently fourth in the championship standings.

Last year in New Jersey, Summerton finished one spot ahead of Finnish racer Markus Niemela, who would go on to take the 2008 series championship just two races later. This year, Niemela heads to New Jersey looking to get his season back on track after a tough start to the season. He will pilot the No. 1 Mr. Jones/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NWR machine as a teammate to Edwards with Newman Wachs Racing.

Another driver to keep an eye on this weekend is Atlantic Championship veteran Tonis Kasemets, who fields his own No. 35 entry this weekend. Kasemets owns three career Atlantic victories and currently finds himself in a tie for fifth in the championship standings with Muniz. The Estonian is another driver who is always a threat for the victory.

Also not to be overlooked are the two-car teams of Condor Motorsports and Jensen MotorSport. Condor is fielding a pair of rookies in Spain’s Borja Garcia (No. 6 Celebfilms-CJConsulting.us) and Frenchman Max Lefevre (No. 7 DOTMOBIL). Garcia, a veteran of GP2, was impressive in preseason testing and will be looking to deliver on that promise in this weekend’s doubleheader. Lefevre, meanwhile, scored a seventh-place result in his first career Atlantic start last month at Miller Motorsports Park after missing the Sebring opener due to illness.

Returning to the series for the first time since the 2008 season finale is Mexican racer David Garza in the No. 2 Team Jensen entry. In his last Atlantic start, which came at Road Atlanta, Garza scored an Atlantic career-best result of sixth. He will be looking to carry that momentum into this weekend, and Garza’s experience will also be helpful to his teammate in the No. 3 machine, rookie Michael Nacol. The driver from Houston, Texas is in his first year of professional racer and has acquitted himself well with a pair of top-11 results.

Another driver returning to Atlantic competition this weekend is Richard Zober in the No. 66 Zober Industries, Inc./www.zober.com machine for Polestar Motor Racing. It is the first Atlantic start for Zober, of Newtown, Pa., since last year’s race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, in which he finished 17th.

Once again this weekend, Michael Mallinen will be an instant winner in the C2 category as soon as he rolls off the starting line in his No. 71 Mallinen Properties machine for Swan Racing. Mallinen earned his first career C2 victory last time out at Miller without opposition.

Each entry will ride on Cooper Atlantic racing slicks and rain tires. The official race weekend schedule features practice and qualifying for Race #1 on Friday. The Atlantic machines will take to the course for Race #2 qualifying on Saturday morning, followed by Race #1, which rolls off from a standing start shortly after 3:00 p.m. ET. Sunday’s schedule calls for a morning warm-up and Race #2, which also features a standing start, again just after 3:00 p.m. ET. Both timed races will be 45 minutes in length.



PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK


•    Ready For Our Close Up: 
Both of this weekend’s Atlantic Championship races at the Mazda Formula X doubleheader feature live television coverage on HDNet. They represent the first live Atlantic telecasts in several seasons.

•    Everybody Gets A Mulligan
:  The 2009 Atlantic Championship features a new wrinkle in the way the championship will be decided, as all drivers will earn points from their best 11 finishes in the 12-race season.

•    On The Road Again:
  The 12-race 2009 Atlantic Championship schedule brings the series to many of North America’s most revered road racing circuits. The series shares seven race weekends with the American Le Mans Series at Sebring International Raceway, Miller Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Mosport International Raceway, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Atlantic series is the “headline” attraction in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and in doubleheader weekends at New Jersey Motorsports Park and Autobahn Country Club in suburban Chicago.

•    Local Favorite:
  Although he made his name in Hollywood, Frankie Muniz (No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies) was born and spent the early part of his life not far away from the site of New Jersey Motorsports Park in Wood-Ridge, N.J.

•    International Flair
:  This weekend’s race will feature drivers representing nine different countries. The United States is best represented with a total of six drivers with one each from Finland, Mexico, Spain, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Switzerland.

•    Rookies Aplenty:
  This weekend’s field will include five Atlantic Championship rookies. The first-timers are Michael Nacol (No. 3 Team Jensen), Borja Garcia (No. 6 Celebfilms/CJConsulting.us), Max Lefevre (No. 7 DOTMOBIL), Frederic Vervisch (No. 17 Genoa Racing), James Winslow (No. 18 Genoa Racing) and Michael Mallinen (No. 71 Mallinen Properties).



MAZDA FORMULA X PRESENTED BY COOPER TIRES NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK FAST FACTS

 
WHAT: 
       Mazda Formula X presented by Cooper Tires

WHERE:
     New Jersey Motorsports Park – Millville, N.J.
 
ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT SCHEDULE
(All times local, ET):  FRIDAY, JUNE 12 - Practice, 9:00 – 9:45 a.m.; Race #1 Qualifying, 2:00 – 2:30 p.m. SATURDAY, JUNE 13 – Race #2 Qualifying, 9:30 – 10:00 a.m., Race #1, 3:05 – 3:50 p.m. SUNDAY, JUNE 14 – Warm-Up, 10:15 – 10:25 a.m., Race #2, 3:05 – 3:50 p.m.

TV INFORMATION:
    Race #1 – HDNet, Live, 1:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, June 13
                                    Race #2 – HDNet, Live, 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, June 14

TRACK LAYOUT
: 14-turn, 2.25-mile Permanent Road Course

RACE LENGTHS:
  45 minutes each

RACE ROUNDS:
  Round 3 and 4 of the 12-race 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda

NEXT EVENT: 
Lime Rock Park - Saturday, July 18.

NEW JERSEY RACE HISTORY (
1 Event, 2008-Present)
Year        Race Winner        Pole Winner
2008        Carl Skerlong        Carl Skerlong



Nate Siebens - photo Champcar

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11.06.2009 / MaP

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