Firestone Indy Lights driver David Ostella is eager to get back on track after a trying weekend in St. Petersburg last week. The 20-year-old from Maple, Ont. finished 15th after wall contact on lap 21 of the 45-lap event. Nevertheless, Ostella and his No. 22 Global Precast–Xtreme Coil Drilling Team Moore Racing (TMR) crew are confident heading into the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
Ostella and TMR completed a two-day test at Barber March 19- 20 and left with a good understanding of the tight, technical 2.38-mile, 17-turn permanent road course.
For Ostella and TMR, the key to the test was getting a handle on the new rubber compound used in Firestone’s racing tires in 2012.
“The number one challenge that we had to deal with was the new tires,” said Ostella. “They are different from last year and that is the one thing we need to address to get a good result at Barber. We spent the test developing a setup for the race by seeing how the tire held up over a race distance. We are looking forward to going back and seeing how they will do with IndyCar rubber down on the track.”
The team and driver’s mutual confidence heading into the Barber weekend is not unwarranted. Ostella took an immediate liking to the course a season ago before a mechanical failure put him out of his second Firestone Indy Lights race. Then-TMR driver Víctor García won the pole and led a dominating 40 of 45 laps on his way to the victory in 2011.
The Barber Motorsports Park course is in many ways the opposite of the series’ last stop in St. Petersburg. The track is smooth and flowing with large changes in elevation. The streets of St. Pete circuit, by contrast, was a bumpy layout devoid of changes in elevation. Going from one to the other in just a week is a challenge for both team and driver.
“Street courses are bumpy and there is no room for error, whereas a road course is smooth and you have run-off space to help you in case you screw up,” said Ostella. “On a road course there is some extra grip since it is a purpose-built track and is constantly used as opposed to a street course which has little grip and is very dirty.”
The Firestone Indy Lights’ race will take place on Sunday, April 1 starting at 11:15 a.m. local time as part of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend. All on-track activity can be heard via the IMS Radio Network at www.indycar.com. A full-race broadcast will air on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) on Thursday, April 5 at 5 p.m. ET.