For the second year in a row, the battle for the Atlantic Championship title will go down to the final race of the season, and Jonathan Summerton is once again one of three drivers in contention for the championship.
Summerton leap-frogged Newman Wachs Racing team-mate John Edwards for second in the standings, and closed to within seven points of long-time leader Simona de Silvestro, following his fourth victory of the season on Friday afternoon at Road Atlanta.
The 21-year old American F1 hopeful started from the pole and led every lap in the #34 NWR machine, beating de Silvestro to the stripe by 4.208secs. It was Summerton's third victory in his last four Atlantic starts and was his eighth podium result in eleven races this season. He is currently tied with de Silvestro for the series lead in victories, and will head for the season finale at Laguna Seca carrying the momentum of four consecutive podium results.
“Coming from [last month's race at] Mosport and a dominating weekend there, we were fastest in all the practices and qualifying and we won the race there, it was the same thing here,” Summerton said, “We were very, very quick in all the practices and qualified on pole and won the race. I think we're in for a good run at Laguna Seca.
"I hope John will be there also, up there strong. Basically, I can only do what I can do and focus on winning races. The rest is out there. We're going for a championship and I know it can be done. The way the car has been the last three or four races, I can't complain. I know we're going to have a strong car in Laguna. Hopefully, we can do it in dominating fashion again there.”
After seeing her streak of podium finishes snapped at eight due to a crash at Mosport, de Silvestro returned to the podium for the ninth time in eleven races with her runner-up result in the #78 Team Stargate Worlds entry. The Swiss driver started third and got the drop on Edwards on the race's standing start, and then managed to keep the American at bay throughout the race to score valuable points.
“We had a really good podium streak before the big crash in Mosport,” de Silvestro confirmed, “It was a little bit unfortunate that I had that, but I'm really happy to be back here on the podium. It's really important for me for the championship to be back up front.
"In the race, I knew I had to get a really good start, so I really focused on that and it happened, so I was really happy. From then on, Summerton had a little bit faster car than we had, but it was really important to get back on the podium for the points.”
Edwards settled for third in the #36 NWR, scoring his eighth podium result of the season but, with 166 points, the 18-year old is now ten points behind de Silvestro in the championship race. He also trails team-mate Summerton by three points, but will take heart from the fact that the driver who was third in the standings following the penultimate round - Markus Niemela - wound up taking the series title in the 2008 season finale.