This wasn’t a good weekend to head to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca if you were leading a junior formula championship. Both Peter Dempsey (Star Mazda) and Simona De Silvestro (Atlantic Championship) were leading their respective championships heading into the final event. Both drivers ran into trouble during the first lap of their race and were subsequently forced into early retirement, handing the championship over to another competitor.
John Edwards, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier with today’s Atlantic Championship result. He came into the event ranked third in the overall championship and proceeded to qualify on pole and win today’s 36-lap race.
John Edwards is your 2009 Atlantic Championship ‘Champion‘. At just 18 years old, Edwards is now the youngest champion in series’ history. The Cincinnati, Ohio native ended the year with 4 wins, 3 pole positions, and 9 podiums. He previously competed in the Atlantic Championship during the 2007 season until he ran out of adequate funding. With his options running out, he decided to take the step that very few drivers take, he moved down the open-wheel ladder system to compete in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship (with hopes of winning the overall championship and the fully-funded Atlantic ride courtesy of the MazdaSPEED Driver Development Program). Ultimately, the move paid off as he won last year’s Star Mazda championship and the fully-funded Atlantic ride associated with the title. Not only did he return to the Atlantic Championship this season with a funded ride, he went on to win the overall title via today’s result. The championship will provide John Edwards with a $1,000,000 prize, which he can use in a series of his choosing.
Edwards actually tied with Jonathan Summerton in the points total, but with a tie breaker (using 2nd place finishes) Edwards wins the 2009 title. That’s not to take anything away from Jonathan Summerton, who is tipped to have an upcoming role with upstart F1 team; USF1. Summerton ended the year with 4 wins, 5 pole positions and 9 podiums in Atlantic competition.
The real story of 2009 was the success of female driver Simona De Silvestro. Simona was extremely impressive this year, becoming the winningest female in U.S. open-wheel history. Despite leading the championship for the majority of the year, today’s result dropped her to third in the overall championship. She completed her 2009 season with 4 wins, 4 pole positions, and 9 podiums. The future is very bright for Simona and I look forward to following her career again next season. She is a true talent.
Atlantic Championship Round 12 (Laguna Seca)– Complete Results
- John Edwards
- Jonathan Summerton
- Frederic Vervisch (Hard Charger)
- Tonis Kasemets
- Markus Niemela (30-second penalty for avoidable contact)
- Barrett Mertins
- James Winslow
- Jonathan Bomarito (DNF)
- Max Lefevre (DNF)
- Simona De Silvestro (DNF)
2009 Atlantic Championship Final Point Standings– Full
- John Edwards (182)
- Jonathan Summerton (182)
- Simona De Silvestro (176)
- Frederic Vervisch (131) – (Rookie of the Year)
- Tonis Kasemets (103)