FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRAFFORD, PA (October 15, 2007) -- The John Walko Racing team headed to Road Atlanta with a lot of confidence that this could be a weekend to remember in the 2007 season for teammates Russell Walker and Charles Anti. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a memorable weekend for the wrong reasons however according to team owner John Walko.
"It was an unfortunate ending to what was a good event at Road Atlanta. There is an unwritten rule in racing that regardless of what else happens, don't take out your teammate. At the end of the day though that is exactly what happened as Charles got in to the rear of Russell ending both of their days. At that point all we could do was pack up and look forward to the finale at Laguna Seca."
The incident occurred late in the race as the duo was moving to the front of the pack. An opening lap melee involving six cars was deftly avoided by both drivers. The evasive action kept them in the race but dropped both entries to the very tail of the field.
After moving methodically through the field and in to the top ten in the closing laps, Anti attempted a bold move that backfired as the two JWR drivers made contact, sending Walker airborne. Walker's day was over and Anti was penalized as a result dropping both drivers to finishing positions that did not reflect their competitiveness in the race.
While the ending was obviously not what the team was looking for, Walko noted that both drivers had performed very well to that point.
"Leading up to the race it was a fairly solid effort on the part of everyone. Both drivers stayed consistently in the top ten in nearly every session and the cars worked flawlessly. It was fairly uneventful with just a good overall team effort. We did miss a little on the qualifying set-up but it only cost us a few spots, something we were confident that would be overcome by our drivers based on our race package."
While the results did not meet expectations at Road Atlanta, the team heads to the season closer at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California with the knowledge that they have fast race cars along with an added presence in the return of their third car.
"We are really excited about getting back to Laguna Seca; it is a great event at a fantastic venue. I'm also looking forward to welcoming back John Zartarian to the team as our third driver for the weekend. Our whole effort seems to elevate it itself when we run the third car so we are looking forward to a great race for all three drivers."
Zartarian will make his second start for the team in 2007, having finished twelfth at Houston in the second event of the season. John is a native Californian and looks to the race at Laguna Seca as having home field advantage.
Testing programs for 2008 resume shortly after the finale. Drivers interested in testing or discussing racing plans for the 2008 season should contact John Walko Racing as soon as possible.
"The weekend had been going fairly well. Eric and I worked on the package all weekend and got faster each time out. The car performed well and everything looked good for the race. At the start someone spun in the pack and I had to go off track to avoid being caught up as well. The car came through clean but I ended up at the tail of the field. Charles and I had moved up to the top ten before the accident. We just have to put that race behind us and look to Laguna Seca. I am really excited about that race and the potential to end the season on the podium!"
"Road Atlanta didn't turn out well obviously. I have to apologize to Russell and his family first and my team as well for what was an avoidable situation. You don't ever want to take anyone out of a race, particularly not your teammate. Hopefully we can go to Laguna Seca and have a finish that will make it easier to forget about last weekend."
Eric Langbein, Engineer for Russell Walker
"Russell did well leading up to the race. We had some speed issues in the fast sections of the track but worked hard to get Russell comfortable and continuously faster. He was really at his very best in the race, avoiding the big accident at the beginning and then picking his way through the field and I to the top ten. The accident was just one of those things that you learn to deal with in racing -- it happened so we just learn from it and move on to the next race."
Steve Dreizler, Engineer for Charles Anti
"There isn't a whole lot to say about this past weekend. Charles made a mistake and he knew it the second it happened. He is a smart driver though and will learn from the situation and won't make that mistake twice. Other than the accident it was a good weekend. Charles was consistent and worked hard in every session. He was well on his way to a very solid top ten finish but unfortunately it didn't turn out that way."
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