Two years after becoming the youngest driver in Atlantic Championship history, John Edwards will return to the series in 2009 with Newman Wachs Racing, it was revealed at the Performance Racing Industry show.
The former Red Bull protégé will drive the #36 Mazdaspeed/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/Entergy machine for the team formerly owned by the late Paul Newman and Eddie Wachs and now continuing in the actor/racer's memory.
“I'm pretty excited about this season,” Edwards admitted, “I had some Atlantic experience before and finished in the top ten [in the championship] and now I want to finish in the top one. My engineer won the championship this year and the rest of the team hasn't changed. I have no doubt that we're going to win races this year, and hopefully we can win a championship as well. I'm really excited about this and excited to be back in the Mazda ladder system.”
Edwards earned the ride by winning the 2008 Star Mazda championship, taking four victories and four pole positions, as Mazdaspeed builds upon a relationship with the Atlantic Championship which began in 2006.
“We're thrilled for both the Newman Wachs team and for John Edwards,” said alternative marketing manager for North American operations Jim Jordan, “We've know John for several years now, and he has impressed us with his on-track skills and his off-track professionalism. It's easy to forget that he's only 17 as his maturity is well beyond that of a typical teenager. We expect him to have a great season.”
As a 16-year old, Edwards drove in the 2007 Atlantic Championship with Red Bull Forsythe Racing, earning a best result of second in Toronto, and he will be reunited with engineer Nick Harvey, with whom he worked at Forsythe, when he links up with Newman Wachs. Harvey, who engineered Markus Niemela's Atlantic championship-winning season with Brooks Associates Racing this year, was named engineer for NWR's #36 machine last week.
“I am thrilled that John has decided to join us for next year, and it is our intention to vie for the championship,” said team owner Eddie Wachs, “With his experience with these cars and his relationship with Nick, I think they will be a force to reckon with. We are also pleased to have the support of Mazda and proud to carry their banner this season.”