Big Weekend Big Shoes Small World Fast Facts - Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge, Sara Senske and Jason LaPoint in the CART Toyota Atlantic and Barber Dodge Pro Series support races at the Motorola 220 at Road America, August 18 - 19 - Lynx...
- Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge, Sara Senske and Jason LaPoint in the CART Toyota Atlantic and Barber Dodge Pro Series support races at the Motorola 220 at Road America, August 18 - 19
- Lynx is the most unique organization in open-wheel auto racing today; a championship-winning driver development program owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty.
- The Lynx program, called 'Destiny by Design,' focuses on a driver's mental and spritual development as well as their on-track skills. Lynx graduates include Carpentier (Player's/Forsythe), Memo Gidley (Target Chip Ganassi) and Alex Barron (CART's new 'Super Sub').
- All three drivers have an agenda this weekend: Rutledge to get his championship challenge back on track; LaPoint to make an impressive enough showing to be considered for a ride next season; Senske to set a direction for the future.
Some race weekends are bigger than others, and this weekend at Road America is big in many ways - and small in another - for Lynx Racing.
It's big for CART Toyota Atlantic driver David Rutledge because this is where he needs to have his luck turn around if he's to stay in contention for the championship. Currently second in the points battle, trailing leader Hoover Orsi by 24, Rutledge has won three races from the pole (Long Beach, Montreal and Toronto) and finished on the podium twice (Milwaukee and Trois Rivieres). Still, the two races where he finished way down in the points (Cleveland and Chicago), are telling the tale at this point. Orsi has typically had good finishes even when he didn't win (which he has done four times)... however, a racing season with nothing but good luck is a rare thing indeed.
"The Lynx team is working at a very high level right now -- I can't imagine how they could work any harder or smarter," says Rutledge, 23, of Vancouver, B.C. "Luck is really at the heart of it all right now. I had the car to win at both Cleveland and Trois Rivieres, but people keep running over my front wing, so I've got to hope that we've gotten all our bad luck out of the way at Road America. And I'm not wishing bad things for Orsi -- you have to be careful about karma -- but every team has some tough times during a season, and his is due to show up any time now. I'm confident about the outcome of a straight-across fight to the finish for the championship, but first we've got to get out the bulldozers and re-level the playing field."
Another big item on the Road America agenda for Lynx is the debut of a new driver on the Atlantic team, Jason LaPoint, who has stepped into some big shoes in the past, and will again this weekend. Rutledge started the season with another teammate, fellow Vancouver native Michael Valiante, who distinguished himself with some terrific races, including a second-place finish at Montreal. Valiante plans to race with the team again at the Molson Indy Vancouver (and is still a candidate for the 2002 Lynx seat), but at Road America, Houston and Laguna Seca, the team will be evaluating the performance and potential of LaPoint, 24, of Woodburn, Oregon.
Not that he doesn't have the credentials, or a full head of steam, coming in. LaPoint was the driver who replaced Memo Gidley (a graduate of the Lynx program now driving for Target Chip Ganassi) as the factory test and race driver for Trackmagic Karts, where he went on to win multiple national and international titles. And he comes to Road America carrying the momentum of a win from the pole in the US F2000 series (the training ground for Lynx drivers Gidley, Alex Barron and Buddy Rice) at Mid-Ohio last weekend. Like Rutledge, he is currently second in the points (albeit only by four), and he will compete in the remaining US F2000 races of the season in between his Atlantic drives with Lynx.
"To say I'm jazzed about the opportunity is a complete understatement," says LaPoint, who will drive the #32 Lynx Racing / Infinity Racing Swift 008.a "Every young driver in my position would give anything for a shot at the Lynx ride, and I'd like to thank Alan Green of Infinity Racing and all the other people along the way who helped make this possible. I've raced at Road America recently in the U.S. F2000 race where I won the pole and set a track record, so even though this will be my first-ever Atlantic race, I'm hoping to make a good impression on the team and help support David's battle for the championship."
#32 is the number used by CART FedEx driver Alex Barron when he won the Atlantic championship with Lynx in 1997, and is the number currently used by Patrick Carpentier (who won the Atlantic title in 1996 with Lynx) on his Player's/Forsythe Reynard.
The third driver on the Lynx squad at Road America is Sara Senske, the first female driver in the team's 11-year history. Now in her fifth year as a Lynx driver and her second season in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, Senske made history a few weeks ago at the Chicago Motor Speedway when she became the first woman to start on the front row and finish on the podium in a CART-sanctioned event. And to add to her list of accomplishments, earlier this year she drove in the 'Pro' division of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
"It's been a quite a year, with lots of education and opportunity," says Senske, 23, of Kennewick, Washington. "I've had talks with NASCAR Busch teams, talks with IRL teams, talks with sports car teams - it seems like being a female in racing is finally an asset instead of an obstacle. But you can't take tomorrow into a race car with you, so I'll lock all those things away and spend this weekend focusing on just how far I can trim the car out for top speed without falling off the road."
So, there you have all the big things. And the small thing? All of the drivers mentioned -- Rutledge, LaPoint, Valiante and Senske - have raced against each other on the way up the ladder. Racing is a small world, with the winding career paths of the truly talented almost invariably crossing more than once.
2001 marks the 11th anniversary of Lynx Racing, one of the most unique organizations in auto racing today. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx is both a championship winning racing team and a uniquely successful driver development program that focuses on a driver's mental, psychological and spiritual growth in addition to their on-track skills.
The Lynx mission is to seek out young drivers with the desire and potential to become champions at the highest levels of the sport and provide them with the funding, equipment and training to take the last step toward realizing that potential, a process the team calls 'Destiny by Design.' Lynx alumni include CART FedEx drivers Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley.
For further information on Lynx Racing and its drivers, please contact the team's public relations manager, Peter Frey, at (818) 906-6997 or visit the team's web site at www.LynxRacing.com. Information about Michael Valiante can be found at www.ItalianMotors.com. For more information about the CART Toyota Atlantic series, visit www.ToyotaAtlantic.com, and the Barber Dodge Pro Series web site is located at www.BarberDodge.com
David Rutledge has a personal sponsorship from The Keg Steakhouse & Bar, a group of 82 casual, contemporary steakhouses spanning from Victoria across to Halifax in Canada, and into the United States in Washington, Oregon and Texas. Further information can be found at www.kegsteakhouse.com.