Lynx Racing Mid-Ohio Review

Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice had the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic race at Mid-Ohio won, handily, by a big margin... until his car ran out of electricity, that is. Rice's Lynx teammate, Mike Conte, handicapped by a miserable 17th place...

Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice had the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic race at Mid-Ohio won, handily, by a big margin... until his car ran out of electricity, that is. Rice's Lynx teammate, Mike Conte, handicapped by a miserable 17th place on the qualifying grid, dispatched six of the cars ahead of him with surgical precision to finish a reasonably satisfying 10th. It happened this way. After qualifying seventh in preliminary qualifying on Friday with a car that was just too stiff for the conditions, Saturday was rained out and Rice had to start well back of where he belonged. In the race, displaying the bulldog tenacity that makes him a force to reckoned with no matter where he qualified, Rice moved up several places on the first lap, another couple on the second lap, and was the fastest car in the lead pack of four that was pulling steadily away from the field. Over the first half of the race he continued to pick off one car after another until he took the lead on lap 21 of the 30-lap race. From there his superior speed became apparent and he pulled out a several second lead on the second place car. With two laps to go, it was - apparently - all over but the shouting. Then came the call on the radio, ".... [crackle]... losing power." The team radioed back to soldier on as best he could, but once the electricity is gone, the car stops just as surely and quickly as when the gas tank runs dry. On lap 29 of 30, he pulled to a stop on the front straight almost directly across from his pit area, his hopes of returning Lynx to the winner's circle for the first time this season over - until next weekend at the Target Grand Prix of Chicago, anyway. A post-race post-mortem conducted via laptop computer and data download revealed that his alternator, a brand-new one installed just before the race, had failed on the second lap and Rice ran out of reserve power in the battery just one lap short of victory. "The team has consistently been giving me good cars, now we just need to get our luck turned around," said Rice. "Winning is a funny thing, sometimes. You can have all the ingredients and come so close, but it stays just out of reach until finally everything clicks that first time and you can grab it. After that, it seems to come - not easier, but more often. We've been there before, and it's only a matter of time until we're there again." Twenty minutes after the end of the race, Rice's car was diagnosed and repaired, and the team and driver were deep in discussion about baseline setup for the new Chicago oval, a track that will see its first laps run in anger next weekend. Mike Conte's day on track was less dramatic, but still showed his improving form. He started 17th, moved up to 12th within the first few laps, and then was able to pick off two more cars by the half-way point. That left him with in 10th with a big gap to the 9th-place car that he spent the remaining laps chipping away at. "Apart from having to start so far back, the first half of the race was very satisfying and the second half was frustrating and lonely," said Conte. "Once I got up to 10th, the next car was so far gone that there was no hope of my catching him. I might have pushed harder, but I thought my right front tire was blistered, so I softened the suspension and drove conservatively. It turned out, after the race, that it was just rubber buildup that I could have scraped off by driving harder into a couple of the left-handers, but that's the sort of thing only experience teaches. We've done very well on the ovals this season, and I'm looking forward to trying out the new oval at Chicago next weekend." The next race on the 12-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic schedule is he inaugural running of the Target Grand Prix at the new oval track in Cicero, Ill. on August 21.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ATLANTIC