Determined to make provide stronger opposition to the race-winning Newman Wachs Racing team in the second event of the 2009 Atlantic Championship, Genoa Racing has added veteran experience to a third car for the Larry H Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park on Sunday.
Atlantic stalwart Tonis Kasemets completes the Genoa line-up, piloting the team's #18 car after switching from Polestar Motor Racing, with whom he took seventh place in the season opener at Sebring. The Estonian is a three-time winner in Atlantic competition and will be looking to add to that total on Sunday as the series resumes after a two-month hiatus.
Jonathan Summerton and Belgian rookie Frederic Vervisch continue in their regular Genoa mounts, looking to build on an outstanding opening weekend which yielded third and second respectively after qualifying in pole and P3.
Last year, eventual champion Markus Niemela barely beat Summerton - ironically then driving for Newman Wachs - across the stripe for victory at Miller Motorsports Park, but this year has already had to give best to new team-mate John Edwards, who claimed the victory at Sebring on his return to the series, having previously competed as a 16-year old in 2007. The reigning Star Mazda championship earned $50,000 for his Sebring victory and he heads the race for the $1m championship prize going to Miller.
MMSP was the scene of Niemela's first career Atlantic victory, but the Finn used the success as a catalyst for his title push and will be looking to do the same again after a tough outing in the Sebring opener, where he tangled and crashed with Jonathan Bomarito.
Bomarito, along with Britain's James Winslow, could be missing from round two following the withdrawal of his Mathiasen Motorsports team. Winslow, meanwhile, also appears homeless with Sebring entrant Conquest Racing not slated to field either of its cars while it concentrates on the Indianapolis 500.
Among those who will
be present, Team Stargate Worlds could be another to watch as Simona de Silvestro and Frankie Muniz aim to build on strong season openers. Swiss miss de Silvestro carried good momentum into the weekend having finished fifth at both Sebring and in her first Atlantic visit to Utah last autumn. Muniz, meanwhile, has been impressive through early-season testing and produced a tenth-place finish at Sebring despite having had to start from pit-lane when he car would not fire on the dummy grid.
Condor Motorsports' pairing could also make some significant noise in Utah, as Spanish rookie Borja Garcia was the quickest driver in official pre-season testing at Palm Beach International Raceway and followed that performance with sixth place at Sebring. He returns to the cockpit of the #6 machine this weekend, and will be joined by Max Lefevre, who looks to make his first Atlantic start after being unable to take up his twelfth place grid slot at Sebring due to illness.
Long-time Atlantic competitor Jensen MotorSport also features a two-driver entry, with American racers Matt Lee and Michael Nacol in tandem. In his first Atlantic race since the 2007 season finale, Lee earned a career-best ninth place at Sebring, while Nacol made his professional racing debut in the season-opener, finishing 14th overall and eleventh in the Championship class.
Michael Mallinen will represent the C2 category this weekend in the #71 Mallinen Properties entry for Swan Racing, having opened the season with a fifth in class at Sebring.