After an extremely tough day on the qualifying launch pad, Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge, Mike Conte and Sara Senske hurled themselves on a respectable sub-orbital flight on Saturday. In the first race of the day, Barber Dodge...
After an extremely tough day on the qualifying launch pad, Lynx Racing drivers David Rutledge, Mike Conte and Sara Senske hurled themselves on a respectable sub-orbital flight on Saturday. In the first race of the day, Barber Dodge Pro-Series Rookie Sara Senske move up from her 19th spot on the qualifying grid to finish 15th and score her first championship point in the series. The race, punctuated by numerous yellow flags, was won by Nilton Rossoni of Curitiba, Brazil, who qualified fourth. "Today's race was a major learning experience," says Senske. "Qualifying so far back in such a competitive field guarantees a tough race, but I passed a couple of cars on the start, diced various cars and learned a lot about drafting these kinds of cars. And I had a 'push' that compromised my ability to get up on to the banking at top speed. Compared to the Star Mazdas I raced for the last two years, the draft isn't as strong, but the Pro Series cars are much more stable in the 'dirty' air behind other cars. I'm happy because my lap times were very consistent, and because I scored my first Pro Series point in my second race. I'm really strong on ovals, and I'm looking forward to the next event on the Nazareth oval on April 9." Lynx drivers Mike Conte and David Rutledge qualified an uncharacteristic 15th and 17th, respectively, for the 50-lap first round of the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic series, and finished 8th and 12th. Former Lynx driver Buddy Rice, now driving for the DSTP team, qualified on the pole and drove a splendid first race for this new team moving up from the U.S. F2000 series to lead 32 laps an eventually finish second to Dan Wheldon of the PPI team. "My car kept getting better as the race went on, but the race was just a few laps too short," said Conte. "I had a couple of altercations with various drivers during the race, including a couple of blatant attempts to run me off the track, but what really made the difference was that I was just geared too short and kept bouncing off the rev limiter. We had the highest gear available in the car, good for about 160-mph top speed, and that even that wasn't enough. The team worked really hard, and my car felt much more focused and energetic in the race than it did in qualifying. I'm really looking forward to the next race at Long Beach on April 15, because I spun during the race there last year and even though I didn't damage the car, I couldn't get it re-started, so I feel I still have something to prove there." Lynx driver David Rutledge had one of those 'if only' races, a brilliant drive compromised by a sticking throttle that made itself known on the warm-up lap and got steadily worse as the race wore on. He moved up from 17th to 10th with some brilliantly precise driving during a first lap melee and continued moving up during the first half of the race before falling back when the throttle problem worsened. "I actually hit my teammate Mike Conte before the green flag came out and damaged that back of his car and the front of mine because the throttle stuck and I couldn't get it slowed down in time. That's an easy fix, and we still have some handling adjustments to make before the second race on Sunday, but the team did such a good job in giving me a much better car for the race than I had in qualifying, that I feel confident about Sunday's race." The second half of the CART Toyota Atlantic season-opening double header takes the green flag at 11:00 am, Sunday, March 25. The next race on the schedule is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15. Former Lynx driver Memo Gidley, since graduated to the ranks of CART, won the 1998 Long Beach event on a rain-flooded track. The next race on Sara Senske's Barber Dodge Pro Series Schedule is the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix of Nazareth on April 9. Although the Atlantics are not running at Nazareth this year, Lynx drivers won Atlantic races at the famed tri-oval four years in a row, 1995 - 1998 (Patrick Carpentier in 1995 and 1996, Alex Barron in 1997, and Buddy Rice in 1998). The CART Toyota Atlantic and Barber Dodge Pro Series support races at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami on March 25 - 26 are the training ground for auto racing's heroes of tomorrow. And the most unique organization participating in both events is Lynx Racing, now in its 10th year as the only championship-winning racing team/driver development program owned by women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. What makes the Lynx program so unique is that drivers are chosen specifically for a combination of championship potential and lack of money or family connections. They are awarded a multi-year 'Road Scholarship' that includes funding, the best equipment and training that includes all phases of racecraft, as well as meditation and visualization techniques. The success of the Lynx program speaks for itself with two championships in the last four years and three drivers -- Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Memo Gidley -- graduating to the ranks of CART. Both the CART Toyota Atlantic and Barber Dodge Pro Series are 'development' series where drivers hone their skills before moving up to Champ Cars. Barber Dodge is like college baseball, with drivers moving up to Atlantic. Atlantic is like triple-A baseball where drivers move directly up to 'the majors' -- the CART FedEx series.
Atlantic Race #1 ESPN2 / Saturday, April 1 / 3 - 4 pm (ET)
CTV SportsNet / Monday, April 10 /8 pm (local) Atlantic Race #2 ESPN2 / Saturday, April 8 / 5:30 - 6:30 pm (ET)
CTV SportsNet / Monday, April 17 / 7pm (local) Barber Dodge
Pro Series Race ESPN2 / Tuesday, April 18 / 6 - 7 pm (ET)