Junior formula car standout Gabby Chaves earned his inaugural Firestone Indy Lights podium finish on Sunday (April 7), taking home third place at Barber Motorsports Park in his second series start. The result has re-ignited the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer’s quest for both the Rookie of the Year award and the championship title, after contact ended his season-opener while leading. Chaves is now poised to build on this success as the IndyCar Series feeder championship makes the journey from Alabama to Southern California.
For Chaves, race two on the Indy Lights calendar was all about redemption. After being one of the ‘top dogs’ in the opening event on the streets of St. Petersburg, including leading laps two through 10, but leaving without a finish following contact from another driver, Chaves was focused on challenging for top honors at Barber Motorsports Park.
Given the 2.38-mile Alabama road course requires a well balanced car and a smooth driving style to be successful, Chaves spent both practice runs on Friday working with his mechanics and engineer to fine tune his Coldeportes/Marca Colombia / RedServi /Tecpro-backed car.
Chaves, and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew, entered the lone qualifying session confident of a challenge for the pole position. The 2012 Star Mazda Championship runner-up promptly put in a good lap early on, and appeared poised to find further speed as the session progressed. Unfortunately, an incident during a hot lap bent his left suspension, ultimately limiting his overall pace. That being said, Chaves still got the most from his racing steed, with his best lap late in the run securing a row two starting position with the fourth quickest time.
When Chaves and the rest of the talented Indy Lights field rolled back on-course on Sunday for the 40-lap Round Two race, the goal was simple…get a good start and make the most of every opportunity. The former Formula BMW Americas champion and Italian Formula 3 Championship Rookie of the Year did just that. Getting a good launch when the green flag waved, Chaves was able to fight his way into third place into and exiting turn one. For the talented rookie, that proved to be the key moment of the race, as while he initially battled one of his teammates for the runner-up position, he never found a way past. Running unchallenged from that point forward to the checkered flag, Chaves crossed the line in third, rebounding from a frustrating season-opener with his first of what many expect will be many Indy Lights podium finishes.
“It is great to get my first series podium finish,” stated Chaves. “I will keep working very hard to get better every time I get behind the wheel, and reach the final edge of this car. I have an amazing engineer and crew that give me 100 % all the time, allowing me to fight for wins and the championship.”
Chaves and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports now travel to California for some private testing prior to Round Three of the Firestone Indy Lights title fight taking place on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. The 19 year-old enters the renowned April 21st event currently fifth in the driver standings.
Those interested in supporting Chaves’ charge towards a career in the upper echelon of motorsports are encouraged to contact Chaves and/or his management team.
Additional information on Gabby Chaves can be obtained from his website @ www.GabbyChaves.com.
Keep up to date via Twitter @ GabbyChaves