Gabby ChavesGabby Chaves has quickly established himself as one of the top drivers in the highly-competitive Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, with the teenager adding another podium finish to his resume this past weekend (March 31-April 1) at Barber Motorsports Park. The JDC MotorSports star further showcased his ever-growing talent behind the wheel in the Alabama doubleheader, with a third in Round Three to capture a second podium finish in only his third career start, and adding a sixth place result in Round Four.

After an superb Star Mazda debut on the streets of St. Petersburg just over a week ago – earning a top-three result in the season-opener – Chaves was greatly looking forward to getting back into the cockpit of his No. 19 OMP/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports racing steed for a pair of races at the Barber Motorsports Park. Chaves, having previously tested at the undulating track via Spring Training, had high expectations entering the second event on the series calendar.

Chaves’ chase for top honors in Alabama got off to a solid start, posting the second best time in the final practice run before qualifying.

Aware that starting positions often play a key ingredient in how one finishes at Barber, Chaves was focused on getting multiple mistake-free fast laps come qualifying on Friday. Mother Nature, however, decided to make her presence felt, initially delaying what would be a wet session. The 18 year-old overcame the change in conditions in fine fashion, challenging for the pole position. Among the top three throughout most of qualifying, Chaves in fact was poised to secure his inaugural series pole until encountering lapped traffic on the last sector of his last flying lap. The OMP driver as result dropped to the fifth position when the session concluded.

While frustrated with his end result in qualifying, Chaves was confident he could still work his way forward come race time.

When Chaves and the rest of the competitive Star Mazda field rolled back on-course for Round Three, clear and sunny skies greeted the racers. In what proved to be the decisive moment of the race, Chaves got a superb launch from the traditional F1-style standing start, vaulting into third place by the exit of turn one. The highly rated up-and-comer repeatedly looked for way past into second from that point forward, but in the end was never presented with a high percentage opportunity. The end result was a second visit to the post-race podium in only his third career Star Mazda start.

Returning to action immediately following the IZOD IndyCar race, Chaves lined up in sixth for the second standing start of the weekend. In a repeat of the opening affair, he timed his launch to near perfection, immediately advancing up to fourth. Closing into the rear wing of the third place racer, his No 19 car appeared poised to pass for position. It was not to be however, as an electrical issue began draining power from Chaves’ entry, causing him to fall down the order. Dropping as deep as 10th on the scoring charts, Chaves made the most of a late race restart to regain a few positions, crossing the stripe in an unrepresentative sixth. He is currently third in the Championship with 78 points.

Photo by Eric McCombs.