Edwards grabs 2nd at Miller while Niemela is taken out on final lap

17.05.2009: 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

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:

Finished P2, fastest lap 1.39.137 (3rd quick)

“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:

Classified P9, fastest lap 1.39.561 (6th quick)

“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.”

Newman Wachs Racing was founded by the late actor, Paul Newman and business leader, Eddie Wachs. Based just outside Chicago, NWR is in its fourth season on the Atlantic Championship series with two “Nuclear. Clean Air Energy” cars supported by MAZDASPEED, along with the Nuclear Energy Institute and Entergy Corporation. Newman Wachs Racing heads into its fourth year of competition in the Atlantic Series in 2009. In its four years of competition, NWR has earned 1 pole position, 4 victories, 7 podium finishes, and 11 top-fives.


The MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development program has identified the Atlantic Championship Series as the top rung of the open-wheel ladder and supports drivers at all stages of their racing careers. Starting with the Skip Barber Series and ending with Atlantics, the backing from Mazda is essential to young drivers’ in their path to the top. The MAZDASPEED ladder grants a scholarship to the Champion of every supported Series, allowing them a chance to make the jump up and continue to live out their dream of becoming a professional racing driver. www.mazdausa.com

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry and participates in both the national and global policy-making process. NEI’s objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy and technologies in the United States and around the world. www.nei.org

Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, has annual revenues of more than $13 billion and approximately 14,700 employees. Entergy is the second-largest nuclear generator in North America and safely operates plants that power more than 9.6 million homes in Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York and Vermont.

 Aislinn Miller

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17.05.2009 / MaP

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