SBRS: Cleveland Lynx preview

Hot on the heels of recent experiences at the opposite end of the racing spectrum, Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge, Mike Conte and Sara Senske will converge on Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland this weekend to compete in the CART...

Hot on the heels of recent experiences at the opposite end of the racing spectrum, Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge, Mike Conte and Sara Senske will converge on Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland this weekend to compete in the CART Toyota Atlantic and Barber Dodge Pro Series support races at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar. The Lynx Atlantic team arrives carrying the momentum imparted by a hard-earned, well-deserved, long-coming victory. In the fifth round of the CART Atlantic Championship at the Air Canada Grand Prix in Montreal on June 17, Rutledge, 21, of Vancouver BC, put his #19 Lynx Racing Swift 008.a on the pole, traded the lead several times and finally took it for good on the last turn of the last lap. It was the first pole and victory of his Atlantic career, and the first win for the Lynx team since Memo Gidley (now CART's new 'Super Sub' won on the Milwaukee oval in 1998). The point for pole position and 20 points for a win leave Rutledge in 4th place in the championship chase, but since points leader Buddy Rice failed to finish, it tightened up the battle considerably and moved Rutledge into contention. "The team has been working day and night for two years to put themselves into position for this win, and it's just the first of many," says Rutledge. "There was a time, not so long ago, that anytime a Lynx driver took to the track it was a reasonable expectation that he would put the car on the pole and win the race. That might or might not actually happen, but it was a reasonable expectation, and I think we've worked our way back to that level. Memo Gidley put this car on the pole at Cleveland in 1998, the last time the Atlantics raced here, and we've made great strides in understanding the car since then. Once you've won a race in a season, you're more likely to win again, and we'll be working to prove that this weekend at Cleveland." Rutledge's Lynx Racing teammate, Mike Conte, had an event-filled race in Montreal, qualifying 12th and surviving several bumping incidents in the race that left his #17 Lynx Racing / Microsoft Network Swift 008.a with deteriorating handling. He persevered to finish 8th and keep alive his string of top-10 finishes. "Montreal is the smoothest track we race on, and Cleveland is the bumpiest, so it's quite a transition in both car setup and driving style," says Conte, 31, of Seattle, Washington. "The bumps make this track a real battleground for the team shock absorber experts, and since this is the only all-cement surface we race on, tire wear is a big consideration. And being so flat and with not much in the way of visual cues it's important to maintain laser-focus concentration, particularly during the re-starts after a yellow flag. This is one of those towns that really supports the race, so it's a place we all look forward to coming to and with the recent testing we've done, I think we should be in the hunt for the front." Lynx Racing driver Sara Senske is one of the fastest-rising female drivers in open-wheel racing today, and will be driving her #19 Lynx Racing Reynard 98E in the Barber Dodge Pro Series support race on Saturday. She's had a tough time of it in the last two races and will be glad to be racing at Cleveland -- even though she's never seen the track before -- just for the elbow room. "I got taken out of the last two races, in Lime Rock by another driver and at Detroit by a traffic tangle that left me no place to go but the wall, so I'm really looking forward to racing in the wide open spaces," says Senske, 21, of Kennewick, Washington. "This will be my first race at Cleveland, and it's a difficult track for a new driver to learn because it's an active airport that they shut down just in time for the cars to go out. So you don't have a chance to go out and walk the track and get it sorted out in your mind before you get in the car. But the Lynx Atlantic team has a lot of experience here, and between videotape of the 1998 race and looking at the computer data, I'm sure we'll be able to get the car handling well. Then it's up to me, and I'm definitely up for it."

<pre> On Track Activities Friday, June 30 10:30 am to 11:00 am Barber Dodge practice 1:40 pm to 2:20 pm Atlantic practice 5:25 pm to 5:55 pm Atlantic preliminary qualifying 6:05 pm to 6:35 pm Barber Dodge preliminary qualifying

Saturday, July 1 9:00 am to 9:40 am Atlantic practice 11:30 am to 12 noon Barber Dodge final qualifying 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm Atlantic final qualifying 3:45 pm to 4:45 pm Barber Dodge Race

Sunday, July 2 8:30 am to 8:45 am Atlantic warm-up 10:30 am to 11:30 am Atlantic race

CART Toyota Atlantic Television Coverage (EDT) 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm Saturday, July 8 / ESPN2 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm Saturday, July 8 / ESPN International 4:30 am to 5:30 am Thursday, July 13 / ESPN2 (repeat) 8:30 am to 9:30 am Saturday, July 15 / RDS (Canada) 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm Monday, July 10 / CTV 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm Tuesday, July 11 / CTV (repeat)

Barber Dodge Pro Series Television Coverage (EDT) 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm Friday, July 21 / ESPN2 5:00 am to 6:00 am Saturday, July 22 / ESPN2 (repeat)

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About this article
Series Atlantic , Other open wheel
Drivers Memo Gidley , David Rutledge , Buddy Rice