The first Firestone Indy Lights visit to Pocono Raceway in over 20 years proved to be another highly successful affair for rookie standout Gabby Chaves. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer further solidified his place as title contender on Saturday (July 6) in Round Seven, earning his second consecutive trip to the post-race podium, and fifth top-three finish of the season. Chaves, who is currently third in the points chase, is now poised to continue his recent run of form on Saturday (July 13) in Toronto, Ont., when Rounds Eight is contested on the streets around the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.
Bringing the mid-season oval run to a close, the skilled Indy Lights field traveled to eastern Pennsylvania to race at the 2.5-mile Pocono tri-oval. For Chaves, the first series visit to the historic track in over two decades was yet another opportunity to further showcase his talents and build on a recent run of races that has seen the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro pilot standing on the post-race podium in two of the past three oval races.
Chaves wasted little time getting up to speed on the large unfamiliar track, posting the third best time in testing. He further moved up one more place on the scoring charts in the lone practice run. Chaves continued to be one of the drivers to watch come single-car qualifying, ultimately securing a row two starting position via the third best two-lap combined time.
With the entire Indy Lights event packed into one day, Chaves and the rest of the field were back behind the wheels a short-time later. Immediately upon the green flag waving, Chaves slotted into second place, just ahead of one his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates. From that point forward, the 19 year-old engaged in what was the best fight for position in the race. Lap after lap, Chaves dueled his teammate for the runner-up spot. Highlighted by four passes for position in the final 10 laps of the 40-lap affair, that included some light contact, Chaves ultimately crossed the line in third, just tenths behind his teammate.
Chaves has little time to reflect on yet another trip to the podium, as the Firestone Indy Lights title chase immediately resumes with Round Eight in Toronto, Ont. The action at the 1.755-mile street circuit commences on Friday (July 12), with two 40-minute practice runs. Saturday (July 13) features a morning qualifying session, followed by the race at 11:45 am local time. Live timing and scoring will be available at racecontrol.indycar.com. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Chaves enters the lone race in Canada third in the championship chase.
Photo by Ron Bijlsma.