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Niemela secures Miller Atlantic pole.


A windy final qualifying session at Miller Motorsports Park was not enough to prevent Markus Niemela from retaining his first career Atlantic Championship pole position for Sunday's SunRichGourmet.com 1000.

The Finnish rookie relied on the lap of 2min 28.915secs he set in Friday's provisional qualifying session as the cooler windy conditions prevented virtually everybody from posting a quicker time in final qualifying, allowing Niemela to take it somewhat easy. He now goes in search of his first career Atlantic race victory on Sunday.

“It feels all right, I like it,” the rookie said, “I'm really happy about the pole. Now, I have the rest of the day off.

"It's nice to be on pole. It's my first this year in Atlantic so, obviously, I'm really happy. I'm happy for me, I'm happy for the team. We've been very close to this so many times and now we could finally seize it and get the pole, so it's good. Of course, we have the race to do and hopefully I get a good result from that as well. Now I can enjoy it for a while.

“I heard the lap times on the radio all the time, but our entire strategy was quite conservative. I heard everyone was, like, two seconds off from yesterday's times. Eventually, Summerton got one-and-a-half seconds off, but I didn't have to hurry anywhere. I was just pretty much saving tyres for tomorrow. If anybody got close to my time from yesterday, then I'd start pushing more. My last lap was pretty much just for fun and I went a little bit faster than the previous laps, but I'm on pole and that's what counts at the moment.”

Joining Niemela on the front row will be American rookie Jonathan Summerton, whose #36 Newman Wachs Racing machine was the fastest on Saturday morning with a lap at 2min 30.433secs. He earned a bonus championship point for his performance, allowing him to close his deficit to overall leader Jonathan Bomarito to 15, and extend his lead in the rookie of the year standings back to six over Niemela. Summerton will be looking for his third victory of the season in the SunRichGourmet.com 1000.

“We're definitely expecting to be quick [in the race],” Summerton said. “As the race is going to be in the afternoon, the temperature is going to be on our side, for sure.

"This morning, the temperature, the track, I don't know.... We were really struggling. I mean, we managed to pull off the fastest that session and get our point back, but it's a little hard to come out second after having such a strong practice the other day. Hopefully, in the race, for sure, I know we'll be quicker.”

Dane Cameron completed the top three in the #19 Genoa Racing entry, giving the American rookie his best starting spot since he took the pole for round six at Road America last month.

“I think there was quite a bit of rain last night, so the track was very, very low grip,” Cameron said, “It actually really hurt us this morning, so we weren't really that good, so I'm pretty happy we got a good time in yesterday and can start from that position.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Markus Niemela - Brooks Associates Racing   [pic credit: Atlantic Championship/Phil Sedgwick]
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to a fourth-place finish Saturday, May 10, 2014 during the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Geoffrey M. Miller for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet IndyCar celebrates in victory lane after winning the Milwaukee IndyFest race at the Milwaukee Mile Saturday, June 15, 2013 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet IndyCar celebrates in victory lane after winning the Milwaukee IndyFest race at the Milwaukee Mile Saturday, June 15, 2013 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet IndyCar celebrates his victory after winning the Milwaukee IndyFest race at the Milwaukee Mile Saturday, June 15, 2013 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet IndyCar crosses the finish line to win the Milwaukee IndyFest race at the Milwaukee Mile Saturday, June 15, 2013 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller for Chevy Racing)
Marco Andretti, driver of the #25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet IndyCar, captures the pole with the fastest lap Friday, June 14, 2013 for Saturday`s Milwaukee IndyFest race at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar celebrates in victory lane after winning the Firestone 500 Saturday, June 8, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar celebrates in victory lane after winning the Firestone 500 Saturday, June 8, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller for Chevy Racing)
Markus Niemela - Newman Wachs Racing   [pic credit: Atlantic Championship/Phil Sedgwick]
Simona de Silvestro - Team Stargate Worlds
Jonathan Summerton - Newman Wachs Racing   [pic credit: Atlantic Championship/Phil Sedgwick]
Carl Skerlong - Pacific Coast Motorsports   [pic credit: Atlantic Championship/Phil Sedgwick]
Carl Skerlong - Pacific Coast Motorsports   [pic credit: Atlantic Championship/Phil Sedgwick]
Jonathan Summerton - Newman Wachs Racing   [pic credit: Atlantic Championship/Phil Sedgwick]

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