Simona De Silvestro became the winningest female driver in the 36-year of the Atlantic Championship with another dominating performance at Lime Rock Park.
Driving the No. 78 Stargate Worlds/Maakoa/Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment/FireSky/Cardinal Technologies machine for Team Stargate Worlds, De Silvestro started from the pole position and led every lap en route to a 10.004-second victory over John Edwards. It was the third victory of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season for De Silvestro and the fourth of her career, moving her one win ahead of Katherine Legge, who won three races in her lone Atlantic season of 2005. The win also enabled De Silvestro to extend her lead in the championship standings to 17 points, 89-72, over a second-place tie between Edwards and Jonathan Summerton after five of 12 races.
“I had a good qualifying in the rain (on Friday), so I started on pole,” De Silvestro said. “I think pole is a big advantage at pretty much every track we go to. The race was good. Borja (Garcia), in the beginning, put a little bit of pressure on me, because he was right behind me and he was, I think, a little bit quicker in the beginning. Then, I could settle in. I think the first lapped cars I got, I got through cleaner than he did, so that gave me a little bit of a gap and then I just concentrated on my race. I went through traffic really well. Then, I heard that John was passing Borja for P2, but my lead was pretty extensive. It looked easy, but it was pretty hard to keep the concentration up because I was kind of on my own out there. It was fun. It’s always fun to win like this with such an advantage. My team did a great job. They give me a car every weekend that I can win with, so I hope we can keep it up like this.”
Edwards charged from fifth on the starting grid to finish second in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy entry for his third podium result in five races this season. His gain of three spots from start to finish earned him the $2,000 Hard Charger bonus and an extra championship point, allowing him to move into a tie with Summerton, his Newman Wachs Racing teammate, in the point standings.
“I got the Hard Charger, and I don’t think I’ve ever had to work so hard to finish second in my life,” Edwards said. “It was really a hard-earned podium finish, because we didn’t have a good qualifying. I was really trying to come from behind in the race. Once I got clean air and up to second, I was able to run the same speed as Simona and I think I got fast lap in the race. At least we know that the car is good and we didn’t lose 10 seconds to Simona. Unfortunately, we just had a lot of traffic in the beginning that I had to get by. We’re really looking forward. It’s too bad that the person we’re fighting most in the championship won the race, but we know we’re on pace with her now. It’s only halfway in the season. We’ve still got a lot left to go.”
Garcia finished third after starting second in the No. 6 Celebfilms.co.uk/CJConsulting.us machine for Condor Motorsports. It was the second Atlantic podium of the Spanish rookie’s career. He also finished third in the first race of last month’s doubleheader at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
“I didn’t start really good, because I had a lot of (wheel) spin, but after the first five laps, the car was good,” Garcia said. “I stayed behind Simona, but after Lap 5 or Lap 6, I started to lock the right front tire. After that, I had a lot of understeer, and it was impossible to continue the same pace like Simona and also the same pace like Edwards. I think the only thing was to finish third. It’s a good result and we’ll see what happens next week.”
Making his first start of the season for Newman Wachs Racing, Summerton came home fourth in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy/NEI car. It was the fourth top-four performance in five races this season for Summerton, who drove the first four races for Genoa Racing.
Tonis Kasemets matched his best run of the season with a fifth-place performance in the No. 35 Fatburner machine for Polestar Motor Racing. The Estonian driver previously finished fifth in Round 2 at Miller Motorsports Park in May and has finished seventh or better in every race this season.NOTEBOOK
• Belgian rookie Frederic Vervisch missed the podium for just the second time this season with a sixth-place run in the No. 17 Roularta/Isomo/Genoa Racing machine. Vervisch still leads the Rookie of the Year point standings by 14 markers, 60-46, over Garcia.
• Rookie James Winslow earned the best result of his Atlantic career with a seventh-place result after starting eighth in the No. 19 CARS Motorsport/Genoa Racing entry. Winslow’s previous best results were a pair of eighth-place finishes in Round 1 at Sebring and Round 2 at Miller Motorsports Park.
• Defending series champion Markus Niemela had a tough race after qualifying fourth for his first race in the No. 1 Jensen MotorSport machine. Niemela – who drove the first four races of the season for Newman Wachs Racing – finished three laps down in ninth position.RESULTS:
Finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown or country, car number, team and laps completed:
1. (1) Simona De Silvestro, Switzerland, No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds, 53.
2. (5) John Edwards, Cincinnati, Ohio, No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing, 53.
3. (2) Borja Garcia (R), Spain, No. 6 Condor Motorsports, 53.
4. (6) Jonathan Summerton, Kissimmee, Fla., No. 34 Newman Wachs Racing, 53.
5. (7) Tonis Kasemets, Estonia, No. 35 Polestar Motor Racing, 53.
6. (3) Frederic Vervisch (R), Belgium, No. 17 Genoa Racing, 53.
7. (8) James Winslow (R), United Kingdom, No. 19 Genoa Racing, 53.
8. (11) Max Lefevre (R), France, No. 7 Condor Motorsports, 52.
9. (4) Markus Niemela, Finland, No. 1 Jensen MotorSport, 50.
10. (10) Frankie Muniz, Scottsdale, Ariz., No. 77 Team Stargate Worlds, 50.
11. (13) Richard Zober, Newtown, Pa., No. 66 Polestar Motor Racing, 49.
12. (12) Michael Nacol (R), Houston, Texas, No. 3 Jensen MotorSport, 35.
13. (9) Michael Mallinen, Syosset, N.Y., No. 12 Conquest Racing, 1.
(R) Series Rookie
Time of Race: 45:40.416
Average Speed: 104.437 mph
Margin of Victory: 10.004 seconds
Lap leaders: De Silvestro, 1-53.
Lead changes: None.
Unofficial Series Points Leaders: 1. De Silvestro, 89; 2. Edwards and Summerton, 72; 4. Vervisch, 60; 5. Garcia, 46; 6. Kasemets, 42; 7. Niemela, 36; 8. Muniz, 33; 9. Winslow, 30; 10. Lefevre, 19.