C12 POWERS EDWARDS TO 2009 ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP

MONTEREY, CA (October 11, 2009) Powered by VP’s C12 racing fuel, John Edwards picked up his fourth Atlantic Championship victory of the season and leapfrogged both Jonathan Summerton and Simona De Silvestro to become the youngest champion in the 36-year history of the series with a dominating performance in the last race of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Edwards started from the pole position and led throughout the 50-minute race in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine from Newman Wachs Racing, beating Summerton to the stripe by 1.380 seconds to get the victory. He and Summerton ended the season tied with 182 points and four victories apiece. Edwards took the title on a tiebreaker, based on his four second-place finishes compared to Summerton’s three runner-up results.

Both Summerton and Edwards overtook De Silvestro, who entered the race as the points leader. De Silvestro tangled with 2008 series champion Markus Niemela in the track’s famed “Corkscrew” turn on the opening lap, sending De Silvestro’s car into the tire barrier and out of the race. She wound up 10 th in the final race standings and third in the championship.

At the age of 18 years and seven months, Edwards becomes the youngest champion in the 36-year history of the series. Michael Andretti was previously the youngest Atlantic champion at 20 years, nine months and 30 days of age. It was the second consecutive year that the driver who was third in the championship entering the season finale ended up winning the title, as Niemela also overcame a 10-point deficit and leapfrogged two drivers to win the ’08 crown. It was also the second consecutive championship for Edwards, who claimed the 2008 Star Mazda title at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year. Edwards finished the year with nine podiums in 12 starts.

“Someone told me after I got off the podium that I looked like I was on ‘Cloud 36,’ and I think that’s about where I am right now,” Edwards said. “I couldn’t believe after the safety car that Simona was out, so it just came down to Jonathan and I and whoever won the race. I just put my head down and in the beginning, pushed a bit harder. I pulled out a bit of a gap and then at the end, I was just trying to not make mistakes.

“For the last 30 minutes or so, my engineer came on and told me there were 30 minutes to go. That 30 minutes went by like six hours to me. I was just waiting for them to throw the checkered. Finally it came out and they told me I was the champion. It was really hard to believe after coming in in third, that for the second year in a row, the driver in third before the last race ended up winning the championship. I can’t say enough about the team.”

Summerton came up just short in his championship bid aboard the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine for the second consecutive season. He was also in the mix in last year’s three-driver battle royal for the championship with Niemela and Jonathan Bomarito and wound up third in the standings last year. The 21-year-old American Formula 1 hopeful also earned nine podium results this season, tied Edwards and De Silvestro for the series lead in victories with four apiece and led the series with five pole positions.

“We had a really good car all weekend,” Summerton said. “Both of our cars have been great. Both engineers, for the past, probably, five race weekends, we’ve definitely had the cars to beat. We should have been, probably, 1-2 every single race in the past five races without the mishaps that went on. Definitely, we did a great job here this weekend. 

“It was a shame that aerodynamics play such a big role in these corners here. I was able to close up as close as I did to John at the beginning, and that was about all I could do was just sit there. We’ve been running very close lap times all weekend. He was doing very good. Basically, I just had to sit there and hope he made a mistake, which he never did. I backed off, cooled down the tires and started trying to catch back up. We were able close the gap right back up, but I still had the same problem, just no aero on the front. Really, it’s disappointing it comes down to finishing positions throughout the year to be tied in points. Definitely, 1-2 in the championship, I don’t think Newman Wachs could ask for more.”

“For the last 30 minutes or so, my engineer came on and told me there were 30 minutes to go. That 30 minutes went by like six hours to me. I was just waiting for them to throw the checkered. Finally it came out and they told me I was the champion. It was really hard to believe after coming in in third, that for the second year in a row, the driver in third before the last race ended up winning the championship. I can’t say enough about the team.”

Summerton came up just short in his championship bid aboard the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI machine for the second consecutive season. He was also in the mix in last year’s three-driver battle royal for the championship with Niemela and Jonathan Bomarito and wound up third in the standings last year. The 21-year-old American Formula 1 hopeful also earned nine podium results this season, tied Edwards and De Silvestro for the series lead in victories with four apiece and led the series with five pole positions.

“We had a really good car all weekend,” Summerton said. “Both of our cars have been great. Both engineers, for the past, probably, five race weekends, we’ve definitely had the cars to beat. We should have been, probably, 1-2 every single race in the past five races without the mishaps that went on. Definitely, we did a great job here this weekend.


“It was a shame that aerodynamics play such a big role in these corners here. I was able to close up as close as I did to John at the beginning, and that was about all I could do was just sit there. We’ve been running very close lap times all weekend. He was doing very good. Basically, I just had to sit there and hope he made a mistake, which he never did. I backed off, cooled down the tires and started trying to catch back up. We were able close the gap right back up, but I still had the same problem, just no aero on the front. Really, it’s disappointing it comes down to finishing positions throughout the year to be tied in points. Definitely, 1-2 in the championship, I don’t think Newman Wachs could ask for more.”