THUNDER AND LIGHTNING AT THE MONSTER MILE Part 2: Qualifying and the Race ___________________________________ On an afternoon punctuated with the thunder of crashing cars, Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice ...
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING AT THE MONSTER MILE
Part 2: Qualifying and the Race ___________________________________
On an afternoon punctuated with the thunder of crashing cars, Lynx Racing driver Buddy Rice summoned down that special lightning which heeds the call of only the truly fast and brave and scored the team's first podium finish of the year in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic support race at the Miller Lite 225. Rice's Lynx Racing teammate, Mike Conte, ran as high as fourth during the 60-lap event, but found himself boxed in by slower traffic in the closing laps and ultimately finished sixth. Rice's finish moved him from a tie for third in the championship to clear ownership of second place. Anthony Lazarro, who has won the last two races in a row but finished fifth here, still leads with 71 points. Rice has 42, while Milwaukee race winner Lee Bentham, coming off a string of bad luck, has 39. Rounding out the top five are Kenny Wilden, who finished second on Saturday, and Alex Tagliani, the Long Beach race winner who was taken out in a multi-car accident in the first turn of the first lap. The result gave the Lynx team a much-needed morale boost, particularly after a difficult qualifying session which saw Conte qualify ninth and Rice 10th. The duo began moving up as soon as the green flag dropped when two of the leading cars crashed in the first turn, and damaged the car of pole-sitter Lazarro, who had to make several visits to the pits. A late-race multi-car crash and subsequent cleanup set up a five lap sprint for the checkered flag which saw Rice and rookie Nicholas Rondet banging wheels going into turn one after Rondet pointedly blocked Rice from passing several times and finally forced him to within inches of the wall. In post-race disciplinary action, series officials fined Rondet for his actions and put him on probation for the next three races. "He was finally running me off into the dirt on the inside and it was a wild couple of laps, that's for sure," said Rice. "But the team has worked so hard to give the met best car I've had all season and I was going to go by him on that final lap and whatever was going to happen was going to happen. It worked out well for us, and all but one of the remaining races are road courses, which I personally like better, so we're looking forward to some good racing." Conte, who's Milwaukee weekend last year was a series of struggles that led to a 14th place finish, was cautiously pleased with his best result so far this season. "I'm happy with finishing a little better at every race, but disappointed that I let myself get boxed in at the end and lost a couple of places," said Conte. "Racing on ovals is a black art that demands a fine touch, lightning reflexes and the ability to re-assess the dynamics of the moment on an instant-by-instant basis -- all of which are learned skills. Atlantic is a tough school full of hot, young PhD candidates, but fortunately, in Lynx Racing, I have the very best teachers available." 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.
KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Milwaukee Race Television Schedule (ESPN2 - EST):
Saturday, June12 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. First broadcast Tuesday, June 15 5:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. Repeat broadcast Thursday, June 17 4:00 a.m. - 5:00 a.m. Repeat broadcast