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Ostby Makes Race Debut with Prima Racing at Auto Club Speedway

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Prima Racing Driver Development Program driver Michael Ostby took over for Andrie Hartanto in his racing debut at Auto Club Speedway. Looking to maintain the team’s points lead in the USTCC TC Class points standings, Ostby’s goals were straightforward; learn as much as possible, get comfortable with race conditions, maintain consistency, don’t commit major mistakes and bring home a reasonable points haul.

Driver Michael Ostby celebrates the successful completion of his very first race with team members James Tam and Lee-Anne Ostby

Driver Michael Ostby celebrates the successful completion of his very first race with team members James Tam and Lee-Anne Ostby

“We didn’t want to place a lot of pressure in a situation where a new driver is going to a new track in their very first race. Very first race ever. Racing is about consistency and we needed to demonstrate that versus outright speed. I know Ostby can be fast; he’s shown that before, but we really need consistency first. Points can be recovered, but car damage or a costly mistake would really set the whole team back,” Prima Racing Principal Andrie Hartanto explained.

Ostby quickly became familiarized with the track, settling in and completing a series of consistent laps. Unfazed by Auto Club Speedway’s high speed banking, nor the heavy braking that followed, Ostby set to work on hitting his marks.

Ostby puts the Prima Racing Honda S2000 through Auto Club Speedway's high-speed banking

Ostby puts the Prima Racing Honda S2000 through Auto Club Speedway’s high-speed banking

“Surprisingly, our lack of power doesn’t seem to be a huge issue on the oval sector. We lose on outright speed, but we can still be efficient through the high speed stuff. The bigger problem is that we’re getting killed off the corners, as they’re all a bit awkward and I’m being a bit conservative on the throttle. It’s easy to make up ground under braking, but as tempting as it is, that’s not a smart game to play if we’re not exiting the corners close enough to our competition,” Ostby admitted.

Ostby works his way through Turn 13 as he tries to keep his speed up through the series of corners leading back onto the oval section

Ostby works his way through Turn 13 as he tries to keep his speed up through the series of corners leading back onto the oval section

Prima Racing’s Honda S2000 demonstrated impressive staying power during its first race at Laguna Seca against the same field with Hartanto at the wheel. While qualifying was tight, the car achieved pole position in dry track conditions and a stellar win during a rainy, wet race. At Auto Club Speedway however, the combination of the power deficit, new track and rookie driver appeared to be too much of a combination, as the car was off the pace. Just a little over two seconds behind 3rd place, the team knew the race would be a challenge.

Ostby crosses Start/Finish, netting the team P4 on the starting grid after qualifying

Ostby crosses Start/Finish, netting the team P4 on the starting grid after qualifying

“There are essentially three infield straights, all connected by tricky corners, plus one sweeping corner with a huge dip that you hit right when you’re maximizing your speed to hit the oval section. The only way we stand much of a chance is to get a tow from the cars in front and try to get on the throttle soon enough to stay in the draft,” Ostby indicated after the second qualifying session.

“At the same time, I still need to have my full competition license signed off. I’m compelled to believe that a wreck in my first race wouldn’t earn me a shining endorsement,” Ostby added with a laugh.

Surprise! Ostby won the Saturday practice race. Unfortunately, it was only a practice race, we're all happy for him anyway

Surprise! Ostby won the Saturday race. Unfortunately, it was only a practice race, we’re all happy for him anyway

Temperatures all weekend were hot; well exceeding 90 degrees. The race was ran at the hottest point of the weekend. Yet the heat wasn’t the biggest concern for the Prima Racing team.

“The standing start,” Ostby quipped. “That’s what I’m worried about. I haven’t done a standing start since I went to a drag strip in 2004. It’ll be on a banked straight, so I suppose the rear will slip away if there’s any wheelspin. I just hope I get a good start and I can slot in behind these guys. Andrie nailed his start perfectly at Laguna, and I’d prefer to continue the trend.”

James Tam helps Ostby get situated as they discuss strategy before the race

James Tam helps Ostby get situated as they discuss strategy before the race

When the green flag dropped, Ostby immediately took off, getting a jump on the rest of the grid. In his excitement, he hesitated, then neglected to tuck in behind the cars in front.

“I couldn’t have performed a better start. It was so good that I surprised myself. Then, even worse, I went wide while the rest of the pack went inside. Thankfully, (Crew Chief) James was on the radio right away to call it out for me,” Ostby explained, describing the team’s start.

Ostby works through Auto Club Speedway's tricky Turn 9

Ostby works through Auto Club Speedway’s tricky Turn 9

With the opening lap action occurring just in front of him, Ostby appeared poised to make up ground in the early phases of the infield section of the track. As Larry Bani, Roger Eagleton and Patrick Chio went three-wide through Turn 5, Ostby caught up to Chio under braking and through the exit of Turn 6. However by the middle of the following straight, Chio had already recovered a significant lead.

By the end of the first lap, it was apparent that the power deficit and Ostby’s conservative driving would prove to be too much. Ostby settled in and established a consistent pace, hoping that an incident or retirement would allow for Prima Racing to net a podium finish. While a podium finish did not materialize, the rookie had completed a clean race and netted valuable points for the team.

The Prima Racing Honda S2000 looking sharp as it pulls into the paddock

The Prima Racing Honda S2000 looking sharp as it pulls into the paddock

“Andrie’s guidance in establishing clearly defined goals for my first race was incredibly helpful. It put things into perspective and eliminated a lot of the pressure I would have put on myself. It also kept some of my hyper-competitive nature in check, which I’m sure everyone appreciated. I’m pleased with our consistency, but in hindsight I was probably a little too conservative. I learned a ton about where to improve both on and off the track this weekend and will carry this forward into future races,” Ostby commented, reflecting on his debut.

“It was a good weekend and Mike can be proud of his first race. He earned us some important points, which keeps us at the top of the season points standings. He already knows where he needs to improve and we’re all looking forward to making progress as he develops into a better race driver for us,” Hartanto stated, summing up the weekend and the path ahead.

Prima Racing would like to thank its sponsors for the 2017 season; Supertech Performance,QuickJack Portable Jacks, Rota WheelsG-LOC BrakesCT EngineeringHondataWicked TuningBlackTrax Performance and Graphtech.