Gabby Chaves once again showcased his talents behind the wheel on Saturday (June 22), taking second place in Round Six of the Firestone Indy Lights series at the Iowa Speedway. With his fourth podium finish of the season, the standout Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie is firmly entrenched in the battle for championship honors, currently sitting third in the points fight as the season reaches the halfway mark.
A little over a week after last going head-to-head against his fellow highly-skilled Indy Lights title chasers, Chaves was back in the cockpit of the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro entry at another short oval. On tap for race six of the 12-race championship was the banked 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, with all the racing activity happening on Saturday. Chaves, as planned, spent the opening two practice sessions fine-tuning his racing steed for both single-car qualifying and the 100-mile race under the lights at the end of the day.
While the ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive – Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability did not get the two-lap run he desired in qualifying, both he and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew were confident of a strong run come race time.
When the Indy Lights racers got the green flag at approximately 8 pm local time, Chaves did not waste any time making his presence felt, taking over fourth place. Aware that the characteristics of both his car and track would change as the 115-lap race progressed, he then set about preparing for a second half charge. Taking over third place prior to the quarter-race mark, Chaves made the most of slower traffic in the closing stages to not only advance up to second, but begin pressuring his teammate for the win. He got within striking distance of the race leader multiple times in the final 20 laps, but was never quite able to execute a pass for position. Chaves in the end crossed the line in second, just 0.266 seconds back of the race winner, earning his second runner-up finish on an oval this season, and fourth trip to the post-race podium celebrations.
“I felt that we had the strongest car at the end of the race,” commented Chaves. “It’s a bit hard running in dirty air. I had a good run on Sage and he defended. It’s just hard keeping the car down on the racing line when you’re so close to the car in front, as well as trying to keep another car behind you. You’re working twice as hard.
“Another good points finish, another podium. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win because we definitely had the car. We’ll just put our heads down and keep working forward.”
Gabby Chaves continues his quest for Firestone Indy Lights supremacy on July 7, when a fourth consecutive oval race is contested at Pocono International Raceway in Pennsylvania. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports star enters Round Seven sitting third in the championship chase.