Mid-Ohio: Lynx Racing preview

Fast Facts -- Lynx Racing drivers Michael Valiante and Bryan Sellers in the CART Toyota Atlantic support race at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio - Bryan Sellers, 20, of Centerville, Ohio will team with Michael Valiante, 23, of Vancouver,...

Fast Facts -- Lynx Racing drivers Michael Valiante and Bryan Sellers in the CART Toyota Atlantic support race at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio

- Bryan Sellers, 20, of Centerville, Ohio will team with Michael Valiante, 23, of Vancouver, B.C. for Sunday's CART Toyota Atlantic support race at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.

- Lynx Racing is unique in several ways: it is a championship winning team owned by two women; it offers young drivers a $2.5 million, 2-year 'scholarship' to race in the Atlantic series and then move up to the CART Champ Cars; it focuses on their mental development as well as on-track skills.

- Valiante and Sellers - the leading candidates to win the Mid-Ohio Atlantic race -- have both won multiple championships as they climbed the open-wheel 'ladder,' and both have won at this track earlier in their careers. Atlantic is the final step of the ladder, Champ Car racing's version of triple-A baseball.

- Valiante has signed a 'development deal' with the Walker Racing CART team that virtually assures he will be driving a Champ Car in 2004. Sellers, the 2002 Formula Ford Zetec champion is making his fourth Atlantic start with Lynx.

- Graduates of the Lynx Racing program include open-wheel stars Patrick Carpentier (currently 5th in the CART Championship), Alex Barron (winner of the Michigan 400 with Mo Nunn Racing), Buddy Rice (driver for Red Bull Cheever Racing) and Memo Gidley (RocketSports Trans Am)

Lynx Racing will pair a proven Canadian rising star and a newly-signed all-American, home-town rocket in this weekend's CART Toyota Atlantic support race at this weekend's Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.

Joining regular Lynx driver Michael Valiante, 23, of Vancouver, B.C. in Sunday's stepping-stone Atlantic race will be Bryan Sellers, 20, of Centerville, Ohio.

Sellers, the 2002 Formula Ford Zetec series champion, will be making his first Atlantic start at the 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio, but he is no stranger to the circuit as, driving for Cape Motorsports, he scored one pole, one win, two fastest race laps, a track record and a qualifying record at Mid-Ohio last year. Over the course of the 12-race 2002 Formula Ford Zetec season, Sellers scored eight wins and seven poles.

Sellers began his tenure with the Lynx Racing team at the Atlantic series test at Portland International Raceway on April 30 - May 1, and he made his first start at the Grand Prix of Monterey on June 14th - a debut unfortunately cut short when he was rammed from behind on the opening lap. The collision caused major damage that took several laps in the pits to repair, taking him out of contention. He finished 10th on a damp and treacherous track at the G.I. Joe's Grand Prix of Portland on June 21st, and drove a brilliant race on July 12 at the Molson Indy Toronto - his first ever street circuit - moving up from his 11th-place spot on the starting grid to finish 7th in an intensely competitive field of experienced drivers.

Sponsorship is in place to run the remaining three U.S. rounds of the 2003 Atlantic championship (Mid-Ohio on August 10th, Denver on August 31st and Miami on September 28th). At this point, Sellers will run with backing from several long-time sponsors, including laser-cutting specialists 3 Dimensional Services. He will also receive support from Microsoft executive Rick Waddell's Drive4USA, a program which - like Lynx Racing - seeks to identify young drivers with championship potential and provide them with the funding and support to move to the top levels of open-wheel racing.

The Lynx team has an option on Sellers for the full 2004 Atlantic season and he is currently the leading candidate to move into the full-time Lynx ride when Valiante finishes his two year Lynx 'scholarship' at the end of this season. Valiante has already signed a 'development deal' with Walker Racing that virtually assures he will move up to Champ Cars next season.

"Cape Motorsports and Lynx Racing have given me the opportunity of a lifetime, and things have been moving very fast, both literally and figuratively," says Sellers. "Now that I've had a couple of races in the Atlantic car to get a feel for both the machinery and the people, I'm really impressed with the speed and performance of the car and the professionalism of the Lynx team. I'm pretty much living and traveling with the team by now, even to those races where I'm not scheduled to drive so I can be as much a part of things as possible and hopefully contribute something to Michael's run for this year's championship."

Valiante, currently 4th in the Atlantic championship, scored his third podium finish (in addition to a win at the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico) last weekend in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Since the Atlantic series hasn't been to Mid-Ohio in several years, this will be Valiante's first Atlantic race at this circuit, but, like Sellers, he's no stranger to Mid-Ohio. He won back-to back Barber Dodge 2.0 races at the track in 1998, and scored top-10 finishes in 1999 and 2000 at Mid-Ohio in the Barber Dodge Pro Series.

"Mid-Ohio is the kind of racetrack I dreamed of racing on when I was first getting started," says Valiante. "It's a challenging, highly technical track with elevation changes, sweeping turns and beautiful scenery. Along with Road America, it's one of the best natural terrain racetracks in the U.S and I'm really looking forward to racing an Atlantic car here. All the teams in the Atlantic series tested here in early July and all the top guys were within about a tenth of a second of each other, so it should be a tight, exciting race."

2003 marks the 13th anniversary of one of the most unique and successful organizations in auto racing today. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, the mission of Lynx Racing is to seek out young drivers with the desire and potential to become champions at the highest level of the sport and provide them with funding, equipment and training that focuses on their mental and spiritual development as well as their on-track skills - a process the team calls 'Destiny by Design.' The 'scholarship' provided by the team is worth $2.5 million over two years. Graduates of the Lynx Racing program include such open-wheel racing stars as Patrick Carpentier, Buddy Rice, Memo Gidley and Alex Barron.

On-track action starts with a 'test day' for all the Atlantic teams on Thursday, August 7, with preliminary qualifying at 3:45 pm on Friday, August 8. Final qualifying to set the starting grid takes place at 3:00 pm Saturday, August 9, and the 1-hour CART Toyota Atlantic race is scheduled to take the green flag at 11:30 am, Sunday, August 10. The race will be broadcast same-day tape delay, at 12:30 pm Eastern time on Speed TV.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Michael Valiante , Alex Barron , Buddy Rice , Bryan Sellers , Mo Nunn