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STATS (through 6 of 12 rounds): 9th in Lites points (85); 6 starts, best finish 5th

POSITIVES: One of the numerous rookies to join the GRC Lites grid in 2016, Gottsacker has managed to put together some respectable runs with a brand-new outfit in PMG Rallysport. The first came at his home track in Dallas, where the Texan placed third and second in his two heats on the way to his first career top five run. Better yet, it came after a difficult practice session that saw the car end up on two wheels on top of a tire barrier.

Marine Corps Air Station New River was another high point; at the time of the red flag for severe weather in the final, Gottsacker sat fifth in the running order. The race was later declared official, giving him another fifth place run to go alongside teammate Parker Chase’s podium.

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NEGATIVES: Unfortunately, Gottsacker couldn’t find any luck at the first two doubleheaders of the year in Phoenix and Daytona. At both events, he missed both finals, only earning heat points for the weekend. But even when he didn’t make it to the main event, Gottsacker admitted that he’s learned plenty about how to get faster and closer to the front of the grid.

“It’s completely different than all of the sports car racing I do,” he explained. “It’s just way more intense, way more hardcore with a lot more contact. I kind of toughened up for Dallas and it showed and paid off. Everyone is really, really good and knows what they are doing— honestly, if you can qualify on the front row, you have a chance to win.”

OUTLOOK: A new driver on a new team is often a low-ranking combination in the championship in any series, but Gottsacker has had plenty of bright spots throughout his first six Lites starts. This year’s field is deep, making it hard for most rookies to really stand out, but a pair of fifth place runs show he’s on the right track.

Photo credit: Larry Chen (1); Louis Yio (2)