Jonathan Summerton earned the first championship point and prize money of the 2009 Atlantic Championship as his quickest time from Wednesday's provisional qualifying session held up through the second session on Thursday.

Summerton earned one point toward the championship and the $1000 Cooper Tires Pole Award thanks to his lap of 1min 53.571secs in the #19 Genoa Racing machine. It is the second consecutive Atlantic race that Summerton will start from the pole, as he also took the top starting spot for the 2008 season finale at Road Atlanta, and is his third straight front-row starting spot. Summerton was second quickest in today's final qualifying at 1min 54.185secs.

"Starting from pole is a fun place to start from," Summerton said, "You get to start from the front row, see the green lights and have a clear first corner.

"For me, it's going to be keeping it clean at the start, get a good start and then just drive away. I know we have a car that's fast. I've just got to keep my head down, keep it planted and keep the car on track and we'll be good for the win, I'm sure.

"I have some family coming tomorrow and it'll be a ton of fun. My family all knows what I do and it's easy going. I'm just going to try and drive and look tonight at the problems we were having today in qualifying. I think we were about a tenth (of a second) off, but all in all, I'm happy. Yesterday was a better track, and we just had a car for that track at that time."

The fastest driver in second qualifying was pre-event pacesetter John Edwards, whose #36 Newman Wachs Racing entry lapped at 1min 54.100secs. While that guaranteed second on the starting grid - each qualifying session leader starts on row one - his fastest qualifying lap was actually the third-quickest time from Wednesday.

"We're starting P2, but we made big improvements from yesterday and I got it together on track," Edwards said, "I was a whole lot more consistent and I think we were P1 most of the session today. I ended first, but unfortunately the track was slower today. That's just how it goes in the two-session format. Jonathan's on pole, but we're here at Sebring and there's a couple of long straightaways, so hopefully we can stay with him and maybe see if we can draft by him and win tomorrow."

Starting third will be rookie Frederic Vervisch, whose #17 Genoa Racing machine was third fastest in final qualifying, leaving the Belgian to also rely on his Wednesday time.

"The track was slower," Vervisch sighed, "I was personally struggling a little bit more than yesterday. It was difficult to put a good lap together, a clean lap, but, in general, we cannot complain. We're close to the frontrunners and the race has to be driven, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm very thrilled and excited."

Vervisch led a trio of rookies to qualify inside the top five for the season opener, as Latvian rookie Harald Schlegelmilch and Spaniard Borja Garcia remained unchanged from Wednesday.

The second half of the top ten on the grid features a lot of experienced Atlantic racers, with defending series champion Markus Niemela, Jonathan Bomarito, Simona de Silvestro, Frankie Muniz and Matt Lee underlining the lack of changes on day two of qualifying.

The C2 class for previous generation Atlantic machinery returns for the first time since 2005, with owner/driver Mirl Swan starting from the class pole.



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