Two years after becoming the youngest driver in the history of the Atlantic Championship, John Edwards finally scored his first career series victory, earning himself a cool $50,000 paycheque into the bargain at Sebring International Raceway.
Driving the #36 Newman Wachs Racing entry, Edwards started second but charged into the lead from the race's standing start, jumping ahead of polesitter Jonathan Summerton. From there, the 18-year old never looked back, cruising to a 4.731secs victory over Summerton's rookie team-mate Frederic Vervisch. Edwards' victory eclipsed his previous best result of second, which he achieved at Toronto in his rookie season.
“It was an incredible feeling just pulling into pit-lane and seeing all of the cameras coming to me,” he admitted, “It was a great race. I have to thank my engineer, Nick Harvey, and the team for putting the car together, because it was really easy to drive, almost, in the first few laps and that's where I gained the gap.
"Luckily, I had the [Genoa Racing] team-mates racing behind me, so I got to pull out a little more of a gap. From there, I just kept looking forward and pulling a gap.”
Vervisch was the first of two Genoa drivers to finish on the podium, coming home with a second-place trophy from the first Atlantic race of the career. The Belgian, driving the #17 machine, posted the best result for a driver making his series debut since Canadian Robert Wickens also finished second on his Atlantic debut in Las Vegas two years ago.
“The start was good, so we could take one position,” Vervisch explained, “Then, I was looking a little bit to John Edwards to see how his pace was. I had the feeling we could follow or catch up.
"There was a full-course yellow and, on the restart, I really focused on John and not on the ones behind me. There was a white car in my mirrors and it was Jonathan and I knew he would take me in the first corner, so we lost some time, because the rule is I cannot block, so he passed. I saw I was faster and John was getting away, so I did the same move in the same spot and he didn't block me either.
"From then, John already had an advantage and I was just trying to catch up, but it was difficult. My second goal was just to finish the race on the podium.”
Summerton rounded out the podium with a third-place performance in the #19 Genoa Racing machine, but the Florida native admitted to having trouble at the race's standing start before enjoying a good battle with his team-mate. Third place was the sixth podium result of Summerton'twelve-race Atlantic career, and his first podium since placing second in the penultimate round of the championship at Miller Motorsports Park last September.