Ostella drove to an impressive 4th in his first series start.
David Ostella produced an incredible start to his Firestone Indy Lights season over the weekend as he vaulted his #16 Global Precast/Team Jensen entry well into the top ten and just missed the podium at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Capitalizing on the first rolling start of his car racing career, the nineteen-year-old from Maple, Ontario, Canada, was mesmerizing as he charged through the field and into the top five - all over the first flying lap!
“It was a crazy start, unbelievable,” he said following Sunday’s race. “I went from 11th to 5th by turn four, and for my first rolling start it was awesome. Things just worked out perfectly for me. I’m just so proud of the team and the result as it was our first race weekend and everyone worked so hard to keep the car fast and moving forward. I can’t thank the guys enough for the job they did.”
After the launch to fifth over the first lap of the race, Ostella then spent a majority of it racing in the closest group on the track as the cars from 5th to 8th were together nearly to lap forty of forty-five. The Canadian dropped a spot on thirteen, but regained it on thirty-eight, his first experience with both being passed and passing in Indy Lights.
“The car felt really good early but I knew it was a long race and just really wanted to pace myself through my first event of this length,” Ostella said afterward in the paddock. “When I dropped a spot, I made a mistake in the last corner that allowed the trailing car to get a run, but our group was all pretty equal throughout the race. In the later part I really nailed a few laps together and was able to get really close, and got a really strong run into turn one. I didn’t have enough to get past, but he ran wide and I got alongside on the exit and through two, heading toward three where I had the inside. I got squeezed before we got there, and he hit my side pod and went up and over my front tire and into the wall. It seemed unnecessary really, but thankfully I had no damage.”
While the move led to Ostella regaining fifth, it also led to the first full-course caution of the race, one that set up a green-white-checker finish after an additional incident extended the caution period. For the second time on the afternoon Ostella gained a spot in turn one, but this time through it was a much different scenario.
“It wasn’t nearly as clean for me the second time through,” he said of his first re-start in Indy Lights competition. “As I went through turn one I was about mid-track, and ended up running side-by-side through two and into three again. I had the inside line and held my position, but there was contact and I had a bit of damage to the car. After that I was clear, and it was an awesome feeling to be able to take the checkered flag and get a top-five finish in my first-ever Indy Lights race.”
The good fortune he received in his first outing could be seen as almost immediate karma, as just one day earlier all the breaks seemed to work against Ostella in Saturday afternoon qualifying. Twice he pitted for new rubber before chasing his ultimate lap, and both times a full-course caution derailed his effort.
“It was a pretty hectic session with the yellows and the tires, and both times I was getting to the optimal lap on new tires a full-course caution came out,” he said Saturday night. “The first time someone went off in turn eight, and the second time I needed one more lap of green to get the best out of the car. It was unfortunate to be left thinking I could have gone faster, but that’s the way things unfolded.”
In the first instance, Ostella had just bolted on new rubber and lowered his best lap of the session significantly on consecutive laps when the yellow waved; and in the second instance the scene repeated itself just two laps after new tires went on. It set up a three lap frenzy at the end of the session, one in which the rookie produced his best lap of the weekend over the last lap of qualifying. Though he wished to have one more flyer, he settled in P11. He held firm that the next lap was the best one, but it all came good on Sunday.
The fourth-place finish in his debut netted Ostella 32 Championship Points, and leaves both driver and team feeling very optimistic moving forward. The Firestone Indy Lights Championship resumes in two weeks when IndyCar reconvenes for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.
- source: davidostella.com