Houston, TX - Danilo Estrela, 20, of Goiânia, Brazil, may have had a rookie season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda full of highs and lows but he managed to finish the final race of the season just outside the podium. Before practice for the Marlin CNG Services Grand Prix of Houston could begin, there was a four-hour delay due to track repairs on the front straight and the addition of a temporary chicane. During practice, Estrela posted the quick lap time of 1:16.570 in the #11 Belardi Auto Racing car. He would try a different setup for qualifying which would slow him down a bit to a fast time of 1:16.705 putting him into the ninth starting position.
Race 1 would start out great for Estrela, making his way through the field and gaining positions. During an attempt to overtake a competitor in Turn 8, Estrela got loose forcing them both into the tire barrier. The drivers were both okay but were unable to continue the race. This was Estrela's fifth DNF of the 2013 season.
There was heavy rain the morning of Race 2. Once the rain ceased, drivers were ready to contest a very wet track. Estrela started in the seventh position but would be a little smarter this time around when racing through the field to finish in fourth.
Ultimately, Estrela would finish seventh in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda point standings with 165 points. This year has been a huge learning experience, and he plans to take that knowledge into the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season. Quotes Estrela on Qualifying:
"Qualifying was good. I wasn't pushing hard at the beginning. There were a lot of red flags that messed with my session. I finally pushed hard at the end so I only had two laps to put my time. Next time, heads up to push from the beginning." Estrela on Race 1:
"I think the race was good in the beginning. We gained two positions and I was turning fast laps. I couldn't get passed another driver and we unfortunately had contact. It was my fault and we'll be better tomorrow." Estrela on Race 2:
"The race was kind of crazy. In the beginning I was just lifting and trying to not be involved in any accident. Then I was pushing harder - just not one hundred percent but eighty percent - to bring the car home and get points for the team. We end up fourth which is good, and we could gain a spot in the championship. Overall it was really good."
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