Lynx Racing Toronto Preview

THE FLIP SIDE OF SKILL Fast Facts: Lynx Racing at the Molson Indy Toronto 1. Lynx Racing driver Memo Gidley, who has won three races and leads the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, won the Atlantic race at the Toronto Molson Indy last...

THE FLIP SIDE OF SKILL

Fast Facts: Lynx Racing at the Molson Indy Toronto

1. Lynx Racing driver Memo Gidley, who has won three races and leads the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, won the Atlantic race at the Toronto Molson Indy last year...

2. Demonstrating that both skill and luck are important in auto racing, Gidley has increased his points lead despite DNFs in the last two races...

3. Lynx Racing's remarkable rookie, Buddy Rice, won his second-ever Atlantic race at Nazareth, and, with podium finishes at Montreal and Cleveland, has moved into a tie for second...

4. Lynx Racing has won the Atlantic championship two years in a row, and both drivers -- Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron -- now drive in CART...

5. Lynx Racing, now entering its ninth year of operation, is one of the most successful 'driver development' programs in auto racing today and is owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty... ___________________________________

Auto racing is the ongoing act of flipping a coin with the sides labeled not 'heads' and 'tails,' but rather 'skill' and 'luck' ... and then spending a river of money and a mountain of man-hours trying to make it come up 'skill' every time.

Doesn't work, of course, as Lynx Racing drivers Memo Gidley and Buddy Rice know all too well.

It was a combination of both that allowed the duo to win the first four races of the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, but the events of the last two races, at Montreal and Cleveland, are stretching luck into a shape that would give any statistician fits; Gidley failed to finish both races, at Montreal due to a gearbox failure and at Cleveland, where he was on the pole, due to contact with another car. And yet he has managed to not only retain his lead in the championship battle, but actually increase it, thanks to even worse luck for the competition.

"Everything went pretty much according to plan for the first four races, but we've had some strange luck lately," says Gidley, 28, of Novato, California. "It's amazing that you can work so hard to win a race and then have something completely unexpected determine the outcome. Montreal was just plain bad luck, but I think the real lesson of Cleveland, despite not finishing, was that we were able to change from the Ralts we’d been using for years to the new Swift and still win the pole and dominate most of the race. And that had nothing to do with luck."

Gidley, who finished second in the championship last year and won the "Player’s Challenge" with victories at Toronto and Vancouver, currently has 76 points. Rice, with a pole at Long Beach, a pole and a win at Nazareth, and third-place finishes at Montreal and Cleveland, moves into a two-way tie for second, at 70 points, with Andrew Bordin. Lee Bentham is in third with 69 points and Alexandre Tagliani, with whom Gidley had a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel at Toronto last year, is fifth with 55 points.

"It was bad luck for me that Memo broke at Montreal because without a drafting partner I couldn't stay in touch with the leaders," says Rice, 22, of Phoenix, Arizona. "But in Cleveland, his bad luck worked out good for me because the only way I was going to get on the podium was for something to happen. I'm just sorry it happened to my teammate. Luck is something you can't plan for, but I'm lucky to be driving for a team like Lynx, and we're going to Toronto prepared to demonstrate our skill."

Rice will start the weekend's activities with a visit to the Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club at 101 Spruce Street in Toronto on Thursday afternoon. And both Rice and Gidley will be participating in autograph sessions on Friday and Saturday at the track.

On-track activities begin with a practice session from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Friday morning, followed by preliminary qualifying from 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. that afternoon. The starting grid will be set in final qualifying from 12:00 noon to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with the 42-lap/75.6-mile race scheduled to take the green flag at 3:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Molson Indy Toronto will be broadcast on ESPN2 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Sunday, July 26. It will also be shown on RDS at 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 24 and on CTV at 4:00 p.m., Saturday, July 25.

The next event on the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic schedule of 13 races for 1998 is the Grand Prix Player's du Trois Rivieres on August 2.

Lynx Racing, now entering its ninth year of operation, is a uniquely successful driver development team owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. The team is dedicated to seeking out young drivers with championship potential and helping them make the jump to the top levels of the sport.

Lynx Racing has won the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship two years in a row, and both of its champions were immediately signed by CART teams. 1996 winner Patrick Carpentier, who won 9 of 12 races -- eight of them in a row from the pole -- was the CART "Rookie of the Year" in 1997, and now drives for Player's/Forsythe. Alex Barron, who won the 1997 Atlantic championship in his rookie year now drives for Dan Gurney's All-American Racers.

In addition to the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, Lynx Racing has a 'junior team', Lynx/DSTP Motorsports, operating one step down on the ladder, in the U.S. F2000 series. Lynx also fields an effort, in conjunction with Kent Stacy's S3 Racing, in the Star Formula Mazda Championship for Lynx Racing driver Sara Senske, 19, of Kennewick, Washington. In the most recent Star Mazda race, on the oval at Pike's Peak Raceway, Senske started on the front row and finished third, becoming the first woman in the history of the series to score a podium finish.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Barron , Dan Gurney , Buddy Rice , Andrew Bordin , Lee Bentham