Firestone Indy Lights title contender Gabby Chaves continued his pursuit of the championship title over the weekend (august 31-September 1) with another impressive drive in Round 10. Overcoming the often treacherous challenges of the downtown Baltimore street circuit, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports standout finished third, earning a fifth consecutive trip to the post-race podium. Chaves enters the final two races of the season currently third in the title fight, a mere four points behind the leader.
With the Indy Lights title, and the Mazda Road Indy scholarship to advance up to the IndyCar Series in 2014, very much within striking distance, Chaves entered race 10 on the series calendar focused on continuing his recent run of form. Since late June, the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro racer has stood on the podium at each event, culminating with an inaugural series win from the pole position last time the series raced at Mid-Ohio.
Seeking to build on this momentum, Chaves utilized the opening two practice runs on the concrete-lined track around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards to develop and fine-tune his racing steed. This proved beneficial come the lone qualifying session, as the ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive. Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability driver posted the third best time, securing row two starting position for the Sunday afternoon race.
When Chaves returned to the cockpit for the 35-lap affair, the goal was to avoid any early race incidents and attack for positions. The highly-regarded driver promptly did just that. Initially challenging the championship leader for second place, he subsequently found himself involved in a spirited dice with one of his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the runner-up spot. In what was the fight to watch, the duo repeatedly went side-by-side, with Chaves just coming up short on a couple bold moves. Chaves in the end crossed the start/finish in third place, securing his eighth – fifth consecutive – visit to the post-race trophy celebrations. With the result, he further reduced the championship lead to just four points.
“First of all, I want to congratulate all my teammates and the team,” stated Chaves. “The crew definitely did a fantastic job giving us a car good enough to finish in the top-three. We knew it was going to be a crazy race. Everyone wants to win and lead the race. For a good part of the race I had a great battle with Sage, going wheel-to-wheel and wheel-to-wall many times. It’s great to get another podium. Now we turn our focus to challenging for the win in Houston.”
Chaves resumes his pursuit of the Firestone Indy Lights title in his rookie season on October 5, when Round 11 takes place on the streets of Houston, Texas, around Reliant Park. Chaves enters the penultimate event currently third in the points fight.
Photo by IndyCar.