While Lynx graduates Patrick Carpentier and Memo Gidley are waging war in the CART FedEx Target Grand Prix of Chicago this weekend, the team's newest crop of future champions, David Rutledge and Mike Conte, will be fighting a smaller...
While Lynx graduates Patrick Carpentier and Memo Gidley are waging war in the CART FedEx Target Grand Prix of Chicago this weekend, the team's newest crop of future champions, David Rutledge and Mike Conte, will be fighting a smaller but no less fierce battle at the Player's Grand Prix de Trois Rivières, the 8th round of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, July 28 - 30. This is Canada's most historic street race, first run in 1967, and holds special memories for the Lynx team as well. It was here in 1996, that Lynx driver Patrick Carpentier (now driving for the Player's/Forsythe team) won, from the pole, both races of a two race weekend. Carpentier went on to win nine of 12 races that season, breaking virtually every record in the long and storied history of the Atlantic series. The current Lynx lineup comes to Trois Rivières working toward clear goals. David Rutledge, 22, of Vancouver BC, is looking to put the effects of bad luck aside and regain the form that saw him make a dramatic last lap, last turn pass to win the Atlantic support race at the Air Canada Grand Prix in Montreal. In the two races since, Cleveland and Toronto, Rutledge has suffered at the hands of others, both times being knocked out of the race by unavoidable contact with another car. "In a situation like this it's a case of keeping your mental balance, and making a few changes in the way you do things," says Rutledge, who drives the #19 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a. "At both Cleveland and Toronto we started out the fastest in the first session but, for various reasons, we didn't qualify well and it's mid-pack where the accidents happen. Because of our travel schedule Mike and I haven't had time to go to the kart track like we usually do, and going cold into a race can make a big difference. But we spent a full day at the track with Steve Cameron (Lynx Racing's team manager and driving coach) earlier in the week, so we're both feeling sharp and ready to race." Mike Conte, 31, of Seattle, Washington, has scored an unbroken string of top-10 finishes that have him sitting 8th in the championship points (Rutledge is 6th). His races in the mid-pack have been even more eventful than those of his teammate, full of bumping and shoving, but without the dire consequences of a DNF. "It's pretty crowded in the middle of the field, and my goal this weekend is to qualify higher, give myself a little more racing room and try to move up to a podium finish," says Conte, who drives the #17 Lynx Racing/Champs Karting Swift 008.a. "The course at Trois Rivières is a real setup challenge because the race is run on city streets that are very bumpy and crowned toward you going into the turn and away from you on the exit. It takes a delicate touch to get the most out of an Atlantic car here, and our engineers and shock absorber technician are going to be wearing out their laptops figuring this one out. That said, it's a pleasure to race here because this town really is the heart of Atlantic racing, and it's the one place we race where we're the main show. You get a 'center-stage' feeling here that really makes the weekend special. I just wish my French was better."
The 45 lap (68.43 mile) Atlantic race, held on the 1.521-mile temporary street course, is Sunday's main event on the weekend schedule and is scheduled to start at 1:45 p.m.
Former Lynx driver Buddy Rice (now racing for DSTP Motorsports) continues to lead this year's championship after posting his fifth podium finish of the season in Toronto two weeks ago. <pre> On Track Schedule Friday, July 28 9:25 a.m. - 9:55 a.m. CART Toyota Atlantic Practice 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. CART Toyota Atlantic Qualifying
Saturday, July 29 9:25 a.m. - 9:55 a.m. CART Toyota Atlantic Practice 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. CART Toyota Atlantic Final Qualifying
Sunday, July 30 8:05 a.m. - 8:15 a.m. CART Toyota Atlantic Warm-Up 1:45 p.m. CART Toyota Atlantic Race / 45 laps -- 68.43 miles
CART Toyota Atlantic Television Coverage (EDT) ESPN2 Saturday August 12 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Repeat Tuesday August 15 5:00 a.m. - 6:00 am. ESNP Intl. Saturday August 12 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Repeat Tuesday August 15 5:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. RDS Sunday August 6 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. CTV Monday August 7 7:00 p.m. (Ontario and Pacific Regions) Tuesday August 8 7:00 p.m. (East and West Regions) Repeat Wed. August 9 3:00 p.m. (East Region only)