Solid season finale for DC Autosport at Portland
 September 4, 2023| 
  • Team News
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Ethan Ho and Carson Etter continue to progress on the middle rung of the USF Pro Championships ladder

PORTLAND, ORE. (September 5, 2023) – The USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires season came to a close last weekend in the BitNile.com Grand Prix at Portland International Raceway, with the DC Autosport team adding to the learning curve that will propel them into 2024.

Drivers Ethan Ho (Los Angeles) and Carson Etter (Villa Park, Calif.) took on the tricky 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course through four days of intense on-track action. At the end of the weekend, each had successfully engineered their individual game plans: Ho worked to build on his experience level, having graduated from the USF Juniors series into USF2000 mid-season, while Etter looked to work on USF2000 race craft and progression ahead of the 2024 season.

"It was tough for the team to have both cars go out of race one because of accidents ahead of them,” said team principal Don Conner. “But the crew did a great job getting them fixed so Ethan and Carson could get some solid results in the last two races.

"Having run a limited USF2000 season this year, we're looking forward to running a full season effort in 2024!”

The strategy heading into the weekend was for both drivers to develop setups through two test sessions on Thursday, but with rain soaking the racetrack in the morning and a mix of wet/dry conditions in the afternoon, neither driver was able to expand their knowledge base. Cloudy and cool skies greeted the teams for Friday morning’s official practice session, and both drivers worked to push the car, absorbing the track under more typical race conditions.

In qualifying less than two hours later, Ho and Etter were only a few tenths off their target lap times, fighting both a bit of understeer and the lack of track knowledge. “Losing basically the entire test day really hurt,” said Etter. “Especially on a new track for me – Ethan has been here before (in the USF Juniors series last year) so it was a little easier for him to get up to speed.”

The race one green flag flew late Friday afternoon with Ho starting 10th and Etter 17th. But Ho’s day ended early when a car ahead went through the Festival Curves and back on in turn three – one of the cars ahead of Ho jumped sideways to avoid, but into Ho, damaging his suspension. Meanwhile, Etter slid past his spinning teammate and took advantage of the incidents to move into 12th.   

At the restart, Etter jumped into ninth but locked up his tires going into turn one and was shuffled back to 15th. After a yellow for debris, he once again made a jump on the restart, up to 13th by lap 17 and 12th by lap 19, settling into a groove. He was battling for P11 with Maxwell Jamieson, but Jamieson lost the rear and started to spin, with Etter unable to avoid his left rear. With suspension damage, Etter ducked into pit lane. At the checkered flag, Etter was classified in 15th, with Ho 18th.

Race two saw a yellow flag on lap one for a car stopped on the back straight, with Ho up to 8th and Etter 17th. The green flew once again – but not for long, with cars making contact in turn one as Ho moved into 7th and Etter 14th. Back to green, and Etter made a nice move in turn 11 to take 12th, then another to grab 11th by lap 23. Ho took the checkers in 7th, with Etter just outside the top 10.

As the field took the green flag for the final time in 2023, Etter found himself trapped behind two drivers locking up their brakes into turn one, forcing him wide and through the runoff in turn one to the back of the pack. Ho was boxed in as well, falling back to 10th at the end of lap one. Both settled in quickly, looking for opportunities, each moving up a position by lap seven – with Ho up to eighth on lap 10.

As the race progressed, Etter found his footing, putting his head down and retaking as many positions as possible, while Ho held his position. Both drivers battled aero wash in the latter laps but fought hard in the pack, with Ho coming home 11th and Etter 16th.

Next up for DCA will be the USF Pro Championships’ Fall Combine series test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, October 21 – 22.

QUOTEBOARD

ETHAN HO – No. 68 Triple S Suspensions

Race 1: Start – 10th / Finish – 19th

Race 2: Start – 9th / Finish – 7th

Race 3: Start – 9th / Finish – 11th

“Tough first race, I had nowhere to go. The second race was much better, we were able to stay out of trouble and gain positions. The car was moving around a lot late in the race, so I didn’t risk it. In the final race, we lacked some pace on the straights and the aero wash made it difficult to pass. Our qualifying pace was good, we just need a few more tenths to be in the top three. We bounced back well this weekend, plenty of good progress.”

CARSON ETTER – Priority Workforce

Race 1: Start – 17th / Finish – 15th

Race 2: Start – 18th / Finish – 11th

Race 3: Start – 16th / Finish – 16th

“I was happy with my pace this weekend – I was able to put in good, clean laps, battling with the cars ahead. It was a good learning experience. The second race was an eyes-forward race. I found my groove quickly: that’s been one of issues in USF Juniors, taking a while to find that groove. I started making passes from lap two and felt comfortable in the car. To the eye test, I was one of the faster cars in those early corners and I was looking to build off that in race three – but unfortunately, got stuck in turn one and it took me a bit to get into my pace. I struggled with a lot of aero wash, which made passing tough, but happy with the pace overall.

“I was able to really push this weekend and I really feel like things are clicking, really coming together. I feel a lot more comfortable in this faster car and things make sense now. I’m already ready for next year, I think we’re going to surprise people.”

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