It didn't matter to Genoa Racing that the 2009 season opener of the Atlantic Championship was being held at Sebring International Raceway, a track that has hosted only one other race in this series' history, and that some 21 years ago.

It also didn't matter that the Indianapolis-based team's driver roster for this event wasn't firmed up until just days before its transporter arrived in Florida, or that one of its two drivers would be making his first series start and appearing in his first race ever at this facility. Genoa Racing and its drivers were up to the task.

"We're super-pleased with the pace of both drivers," team manager Thomas Knapp commented, "Jonathan continued his reputation for being super-quick, and Frederic has been very fast as well. Frederic's feedback has been excellent from the moment he stepped into the car to test with us."

After two rounds of qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday, f1 tip Jonathan Summerton will start from the pole Friday in the #19 car, having set a new track record. His team-mate, rookie Frederic Vervisch, will start third in the #17, despite having posted a time good enough for the front row.

The Genoa drivers were first and second after the first round of qualifying on Wednesday but, while Summerton's time of 1min 53.57secs held up to ensure he'd start from the pole, fellow American John Edwards topped the Thursday timesheets to earn the right, under series rules, to start from the fornt row, bumping Vervisch in the process.

Summerton earned $1000 and one point for his pole lap, giving him the early lead in the championship.

"It was fun!" he exclaimed after the first round of qualifying on Wednesday, "It's a ride-and-a-half out there. When you're going through turn one, it's bumpy as heck. You've got to keep your line perfect and basically make sure you miss the bump in turn one and turn 17. It's like a rollercoaster.

"We worked hard between sessions. [Crew chief] Geoff Bushor, [team manager] Thomas Knapp and everyone at Genoa really worked hard. The car was great, [but] I'm sure we still had another two or three tenths, easy.

"I'm happy with the car, but traffic really slowed us up today," he added after taking off his helmet following Thursday's session, "I think we were about a tenth of a second off but, all in all, I'm happy. The track was better yesterday.

"Starting from the pole tomorrow will be fun. You get to start from the front row, see the lights, and have a clear first corner. For me, it's going to be keeping it clean at the start, get a good start, and then just drive away. I know we have a car that's fast, so I've just got to keep my head down, keep it planted, and we'll be good for the win."

Vervisch, meanwhile, will make his first series start from the inside of row two, despite although everything this weekend being new to the 22-year old Belgian.

"I think we've done a good job so far," he said, "I can't say there was more in it. We did a change and I thought the car felt better, but then there was a yellow flag. I'm really enjoying this though. I never did such a long qualifying session. Back in Europe, qualifying is very short, but here you have to drive, drive, drive. The car gets better the more you drive, so it's interesting. It's something that also suits me, so I'm happy.

"The track conditions were worse today," he said after Thursday's run, "We made some changes to the car. We still have to analyse it, but it wasn't perfect. I had trouble with traffic today too, but it's still a good result for my first time here and my first time in this car and in this series. We cannot complain. I'm thrilled, excited, and looking forward to the race."

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