De Silvestro and Edwards Ready For Atlantic Championship Battle at Mid-Ohio

De Silvestro and Edwards Ready For Atlantic Championship Battle at Mid-Ohio

07.08.2009: The Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time since 2003 and the “prime time” race on Saturday night is sure to put the spotlight

The Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time since 2003 and the “prime time” race on Saturday night is sure to put the spotlight on the battle for 2009 title honors between Simona De Silvestro and John Edwards.



De Silvestro, the only woman competing in Atlantic this season, currently has the upper hand in the championship fight with a five-point advantage (119-114) over Edwards. She and Edwards are tied for the season lead with three victories apiece, and De Silvestro leads all drivers with three pole positions from the 2009 season. With her victory at Lime Rock Park last month, the 20-year-old racer from Switzerland became the winningest woman driver in the 36-year history of the Atlantic Championship. In short, De Silvestro has had an amazing season thus far in the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds.

However, Edwards charged back into the title fight in a big way in the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda doubleheader last month. The 18-year-old driver thoroughly dominated the weekend in suburban Chicago, taking pole position for both races and leading every lap of competition for his second and third victories of the season in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing. Perhaps most importantly, Edwards sliced De Silvestro’s points lead from 17 entering the weekend to five at its conclusion, setting the stage for a potential down-to-the-wire race for the title. The Cincinnati resident looks to continue his hot streak this weekend in his home state.

While De Silvestro and Edwards have managed to put some space between themselves and the rest of their competitors in the Atlantic Championship, there are still five races and plenty of time for other drivers to make a run. One good candidate to do just that is Edwards’ NWR teammate, Jonathan Summerton, in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI entry. Summerton is currently third in the point standings with 92 points, but he is a proven winner and podium finisher in Atlantic competition as evidenced by his win earlier this year at New Jersey and his four podiums.

Belgian rookie Frederic Vervisch is another one to watch in the No. 17 Quartier/Isomo/Shinokki machine for Genoa Racing. Vervisch opened the year with three podium results from his first four starts, and although he hasn’t scored a top-three result since the second race of June’s doubleheader at New Jersey, he has finished fourth or better in five of his seven races in the series. He also leads the Rookie of the Year point standings by 20 points, 84-64, over Borja Garcia.

Estonian driver Tonis Kasemets heads to Mid-Ohio carrying the momentum of his first podium result of the season —a third-place run in Race #2 at Autobahn – in the No. 35 Fatburner machine for Polestar Motor Racing. He has finished inside the top five in four races this season and always seems to excel on the classic North American road circuits, of which Mid-Ohio is certainly one. Another podium for Kasemets this weekend would come as no surprise.

Garcia holds down sixth in the championship standings heading to Mid-Ohio. He has two podium finishes of his own in the No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us car from Condor Motorsports this season with runs of third in Race #1 of the New Jersey doubleheader and at Lime Rock Park last month. He has also finished inside the top five in four of seven races.

Defending series champion Markus Niemela and Team Stargate Worlds driver Frankie Muniz are tied for seventh in points coming to Mid-Ohio. Niemela, who switched from Newman Wachs Racing to Jensen MotorSport three races ago, is hungry for another victory after winning twice en route to title honors last season. He drives the No. 1 Jensen MotorSport machine.

Muniz, meanwhile, has twice earned the “Hard Charger” bonus money and points this season in the No. 77 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies entry, including a run from seventh to a career-best fourth-place race result in May at Miller Motorsports Park. Now in his third year of Atlantic competition, the former actor has clearly taken several steps forward in his racing career.

British rookie James Winslow returns to the cockpit of the No. 18 C.A.R.S./E.T.T./D.H.S. machine for Genoa Racing this weekend having finished ninth or better in all seven of his Atlantic starts to date. He is currently ninth in the championship standings and will be looking to improve upon a career-best run of seventh this weekend. The same can also be said for French rookie Max Lefevre in the No. 7 DOTMOBIL entry for Condor Motorsports. Lefevre is 10th in the point standings and earned a best Atlantic result of seventh in Round 2 at Miller Motorsports Park.

This weekend will also see multiple C2 class entries for the first time since the season-opening race at Sebring in March. Leading the class is Michael Mallinen in the No. 71 Mallinen Properties machine for Swan Racing, who returns for the first time since the New Jersey doubleheader in June. Mallinen has three C2 victories from his four starts.

Joining Mallinen in the C2 field will be his team owner, Mirl Swan, in the No. 88 Everclear Specialty Lubricants machine. Swan opened the year with the C2 victory at Sebring. Making his C2 debut this weekend is Hans Peter in the No. 80 Team Phenix/Swan Racing entry. Peter is a multi-time winner in SCCA competition.

Each entry will ride on Cooper Atlantic racing slicks and rain tires. After a promoter test day on Thursday, the official weekend schedule will see Atlantic machines on course for practice from 8:00 to 8:45 a.m. ET and again from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. on Friday morning, with qualifying slated to run from 5:00 to 5:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The lone on-track activity for Atlantic will be the 50-minute race, which will roll off from a standing start beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET, but there will also be an all-driver autograph session at the Cooper Tire display from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 Noon on Saturday.

Also at the Cooper Tire display from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Atlantic fans will also have the opportunity to add their name to their favorite driver’s car by signing a decal that will placed on the car for Saturday’s race for a small donation. The person who donates the most money will receive two prerace grid pass and will also have the opportunity to present one of the trophies on the post-race podium. Cooper Tires will also supply a tire signed by all Atlantic drivers for an auction benefitting CARA Charities.

Live Timing & Scoring data, news and photos from throughout the weekend will be available on the official website of the Atlantic Championship at www.atlantic-championship.com. Updates will also be available throughout the weekend via Twitter (http://twitter.com/atlanticracing), the Atlantic Championship Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brownsburg-IN/Cooper-Tires-Presents-The-Atlantic-Championship-Powered-by-Mazda/90562133620?ref=mf) and the series’ official YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/AtlanticRacingSeries.
 

- Nate Siebens-   also photo

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/champcar-atlantic-mid-ohio-simona-de-silvestro-edwards-jonathan-summerton---67635.html

07.08.2009 / MaP

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