ELECTRICITY REVISITED Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice put on yet another convincing display of his electric driving style during the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic race at the Grand Prix du Montreal on Saturday. Last year, with the Atlantic...
Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice put on yet another convincing display of his electric driving style during the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic race at the Grand Prix du Montreal on Saturday. Last year, with the Atlantic series using its traditional standing start, Rice rocketed from his third-place qualifying position to take the lead going into the first turn. After a spirited, race-long battle with the Player's duo of Lee Bentham and Alex Tagliani, Rice finished third behind winner Lee Bentham. This year, with the standing start discarded by Atlantic series owner CART, the field of 30 Atlantic cars thundered into the first turn of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at top speed after a rolling start. The expected carnage failed to materialize as the entire field made it through, and on the other side of turn one, Rice had transported himself (beam me forward, Scotty) from sixth to third. By then end of the first lap, he was in second, and on lap three, he moved into second behind Tagliani. The leading trio of cars -- Tagliani, Rice and Anthony Lazzaro - began to pull away from the rest of the pack, and then Tagliani and Rice began to pull away for their own race-long two-car duel, which ended with the cars crossing the finish line almost side-by-side. It was so close a finish in fact, that Tagliani's margin of victory was just 4/10ths of a second. Rice's Lynx Racing teammate, Mike Conte, soldiered on in difficult circumstances to finish ninth.
In the course of the race, Rice also set the fastest lap and new course record, at 1:36.704, faster than the pole position qualifying speed, and won the MCI Fast Pace Award for moving forward the most number of places during the race.
The points scored for second place put Rice, after 5 of 12 races, firmly in command of second place in the championship points battle: Anthony Lazzaro, who finished third at Montreal leads with 85; Rice, who finished third in the last race on the oval at Milwaukee, has finished in the top ten at every event so far, has 58; Montreal winner Tagliani has 57. Rice's Lynx Racing teammate, Mike Conte, is tied for 11th with 20 points.
In the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic series, a race win is awarded 20 points, with one point for the pole and one point for leading the most laps.
"We started out by winning the celebrity go-kart race on Thursday, and followed it up with our second podium finish in a row," said Rice. "I think this shows beyond any doubt that Lynx is back it belongs, running up front and capable of winning on any given weekend. The team worked really hard all weekend and gave me a great car for the race. The only problem with the car was that I had to pump the brakes for most of the race, which kept me from attacking for the lead as hard as I wanted to, but that's easy to fix. More important is that the handling was great from start to finish, and with a couple of days of testing before the next race at Road America, we'll be looking for our first win of the season." Rice's Lynx Racing teammate, Mike Conte, had to contend with a more difficult set of circumstances. With a limited amount of track time available, Conte suffered a mechanical failure early in the morning practice session on Friday, forcing him to go into qualifying Friday afternoon with only a handful of practice laps. Nonetheless, he managed 12th-fast in a 30-car field and ran a strong race to finish ninth. "It was a falling dominoes kind of weekend," said Conte. "With so little practice, we had to make an educated guess at a setup for qualifying, but it was just that little bit off. And without a good qualifying setup, we had to guess again for the race. Still, I learned a lot about the track, which will help me next year, and we learned some things about the car that should be useful at Road America. I'm not what you would call happy about finishing ninth, but under the circumstances, and with a so many terrific drivers and good teams in the series this year, I do feel that the weekend was worthwhile."
Round six of the 12-race KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship will continue July 11 at Road America. Lynx Racing, owned by Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty and now entering its ninth year of operation, is both a championship-winning racing team and a unique driver development program. The team's mission is to seek out young drivers with championship potential and provide them with the training, resources and opportunity to realize that potential and make the jump to auto racing's 'major leagues.' In addition to Buddy Rice and Mike Conte in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic series, Lynx also sponsors a car for the team's first female driver, Sara Senske, 20, of Kennewick, Washington. Senske competes in the Star Mazda Championship, driving a car fielded by Kent Stacy's championship winning S3 Racing. In her most recent race, on Memorial Day at the Phoenix International Raceway oval, she qualified on the front row and scored a podium finish. Her next race is a Sports Car Club of America national event, June 12 - 13 at the Willow Springs Raceway in Southern California. __________________________________
For further information on Lynx Racing and its drivers, please visit the team's web site at www.LynxRacing.com __________________________________
Television Schedule (ESPN2 - EST):
Saturday, June19 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. First broadcast Thursday, June 24 4:00 a.m. - 5:00 a.m. Repeat broadcast Thursday, June 24 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Repeat broadcast