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Jun 08, 2014 - 02:00 PM
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Podium Punctured at Kansas, Ostella Settles for Ninth
Posted by: newsla on Jun 08, 2014 - 01:59 PM
USCR News
Podium Punctured at Kansas, Ostella Settles for Ninth


David Ostella raced among the top three in the unique TUDOR United Sports Car Championship Prototype Challenge (PC) event Saturday, June 7 at Kansas Speedway, but a flat tire led to him finishing ninth under the lights.

 

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Ostella and the rest of the PC drivers competed in an interesting format on the six-turn, 2.37-mile road course at Kansas. The PC cars ran two 45-minute sprints separated by a five-hour intermission. The IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda joined in the action, which provided additional excitement for the overall grid of nearly 30 prototypes.

Most of the PC teams ran their usual two-driver format, with pro drivers required by IMSA to run the second sprint. Performance Tech Motorsports chose to have Ostella drive both segments, giving him additional experience head-to-head with professional drivers.

"It's my first year in this type of racing, and all the pros out there have done it before and they know what they are doing," Ostella said. "So it will be good to be out there and learn from them. They're where I want to be, so that's definitely the kind of competition I want to be racing against."

Ostella started the first segment sixth in the field after turning his top lap of 1 minute, 12.766 seconds with one minute remaining in Friday's qualifying session. Some swift, yet conservative driving advanced Ostella to third by the end of the sprint during the late afternoon Saturday in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Dash Neighborhood/Phillips 66 car.

"We had an amazing start to the race today," Ostella said. "We went immediately from sixth to third, almost second right off the start. My main thing was to make sure I just got into the corners with speed and held my position. I knew the guys behind me would start battling, and that's exactly what they did. So I was able to maintain a gap ahead of them."

Those battles resulted in two caution periods during the segment.

"Off the restarts, we had some pretty crazy passes going into Turn 1," Ostella said. "I think we were three-wide at one point. But it was a clean race and exactly what we wanted. We didn't want anything to happen in this first half of the race or be going into the second one having problems with the car or anything like that."

Teams had plenty of time to prepare themselves for the second segment, which started at 10:15 p.m. Ostella's team took advantage of the time to repair minor damage incurred during the first session.

"We made a few adjustments for tonight's stint," Ostella said. "We actually ran over some debris and damaged the floor. It was pretty much creating a parachute on the straightaways. That was reassuring to know that's why we were losing some time there."

Ostella had a strong start in the second 45-minute sprint and was battling with former Indianapolis 500 pole winners Alex Tagliani and Bruno Junqueira before starting to wane.

"The start of tonight's session went really well and we were holding our position, but then we started to fall off," Ostella said. "I got tagged by another car a little bit in the right rear, so that kind of messed us up a bit."

There was more to be learned about Ostella's slide through the field. During a caution period, Ostella and his team determined that the left rear tire had a puncture and was slowly losing pressure. This forced Ostella to pit for fresh rubber just as the field returned to racing.

"We ended up having a left rear tire go flat, which forced us to pit and lose a lot of positions on the racetrack," Ostella said. "We got that changed out and were running pretty good lap times after that. I think it would have been a pretty good battle if I had been in it the whole time."

After pitting, Ostella ran his fastest lap times of the weekend through the end of the race, but would have to settle for ninth place.

"Overall, I am happy," Ostella said. "The crew did an awesome job this weekend. I can't thank Performance Tech enough; they have been going pretty crazy all weekend. I'm happy. The car is good. I am glad we were quick enough to show we could stay with the pro drivers, and I am really looking forward to the Six Hours at The Glen coming up next so we can show them what we can do there."

Ostella will make his next appearance in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday, June 29. The race - which will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 - also is the third round of the Tequila PatrĂ³n North American Endurance Cup.

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