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Category: Indy Lights

Gabby ChavesMotorsports rising star Gabby Chaves ended his return season of North American junior formula car action in superb fashion on Saturday (October 19) at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Returning to the cockpit of his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry, the standout rookie finished second in the Firestone Indy Lights season-finale, giving the highly-regarded racer a series-high 10 podium finishes, and second in the championship fight.

Entering the season-ending 12th race on the 2013 Indy Lights schedule, Chaves was one of only two drivers still in contention for the championship crown and the prestigious Mazda Road to Indy scholarship to advance up to the IndyCar Series in 2014.

Given the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro racer had earned a trip to the post-race podium at the previous six races, including an inaugural win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the stage was set for another run at top honors.

Aware that car set-up is key on an oval, the talented Schmidt Peterson Motorsports focused on fine tuning Chaves’ racing steed in the lead up to qualifying and the 50-lap race.

Chaves, having turned the third best time during single-car qualifying, got the green flag on Saturday from row two. Needing to lead the most laps and score the win in order to come home as the series champion, 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 wasted little time moving up to second and challenging for the lead. While Chaves continually pressured the race leader, he was unable to make a pass for position, ultimately taking second place, a mere 0.9966s behind at the checkered flag. When combined with a third place finish by his championship-winning teammate, Chaves ended the year as the 2013 Indy Lights runner-up.

“It’s disappointing,” stated Chaves. “We fight with our hearts every time, and sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today wasn’t my day. I did everything that I could. I knew I had to lead the most laps, and tried to go around Carlos [Munoz] many times. I couldn’t do it.

“Great job to the team, to Sam [Schmidt], and a big thank you to everyone who has helped me, including my engineer Chris [Finch], all the mechanics, the whole Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew, Al Lewis, and PitFit Training. Congrats to Sage [Karam] and my team for the championship, and we’ll see what comes next. I’ll definitely keep pushing hard, because it’s not over. We lost this championship, but there’s still plenty to come.”

Chaves was a title contender throughout his rookie Indy Lights season. The most consistent front-runner, he secured a series-high 10 top-three finishes in 12 races, scoring one win and five seconds.

With second in the 2013 Indy Lights title fight, the up-and-comer has finished as a champion or runner-up five times since 2007. Chaves has enjoyed success both in North America and abroad, highlighted by the 2008 Skip Barber Southern Regional Series title, 2009 Formula BMW Americas championship crown, 2010 Campionato Italiano Formula 3 Rookie of the Year award, and second in the 2012 Star Mazda Championship.

Chaves is currently preparing for the 2014 season, and excited for the opportunities it might bring.

Next up for Chaves is a return to his racing roots…karting. The skilled 20 year-old will contest both the prestigious Robo-pong 200 at New Castle Motorsports Park in Indiana, and the 17th edition of the renowned SuperKartsUSA! SuperNationals in Las Vegas.

Photo by Chris Jones.

Peter DempseyWhen one door closes, another opens, and that is certainly the case for Firestone Indy Lights driver Peter Dempsey. Following the news that Belardi Auto Racing would not yield sufficient funding to run him at the final two races, Team Moore Racing opened the door for Dempsey to compete at the Grand Prix of Houston this weekend.

Dempsey will pilot the No. 2 TMR / Global Tubing / ALS Association car alongside longtime competitor and friend, Conor Daly. This weekend’s street course will be the first time the Irishman and his Irish-American colleague will debut as teammates.

“I could not be happier to be joining Team Moore Racing for the Houston race,” said Dempsey. “TMR, Mark Moore, and Tom Wood are proven multiple race winners in the Firestone Indy Lights series, and I am heading to Houston with great confidence that I am surrounded by the right people. I’m also really looking forward to having Conor Daly as my teammate for the weekend. We are friends off the track and competitors on the track, so I think we will work really well together and hopefully be in the position to reward TMR with the results they deserve.

“Team Moore Racing is giving me the opportunity to keep my title fight alive, and for that, I will always be thankful. I’d really like to thank all of my team sponsors along with my personal sponsors for making this all come together.”

Team Moore Racing will welcome three new sponsors for this weekend’s event, Global Tubing, RUS Industrial, and the ALS Association.

“We are really looking forward to the Houston race,” stated Co-Owner Mark Moore. “We have wanted to put Peter [Dempsey] in one of cars for a long time now. This is going to be a very exciting race with Peter and Conor [Daly] as teammates. It just doesn’t get any better than that!”

“Mark [Moore] and I are really happy we were able to get Peter into the No. 2 TMR / Global Tubing / ALS Association car for Houston,” added Co-owner Tom Wood. “Peter has proven how fast he is throughout the season. We’re looking forward to a great show.”

Dempsey currently lies fifth in the championship and is one of five drivers vying for the championship title and coveted $1 million scholarship towards an IndyCar drive in 2014. His new partnership with TMR, who concluded last season with one pole position, two wins, four podiums, and third in the championship, could very well be a winning combination to boost his chances at the title.

This will be IndyCar’s first return to the 1.7-mile street circuit of Houston since 2007. The 10-turn course incorporates Houston landmarks Reliant Stadium, the Reliant Astrodome, and Reliant Arena. The first practice of the weekend will take place at 10:25am EST on Friday, October 4 followed by a second practice session at 3:00pm EST. Qualifying will commence at 9:35am EST on Saturday, October 5 with the race to follow at 1:30pm EST. Coverage of the race will be shown at 4:00pm EST on Sunday, October 6 on NBC Sports Network.

Peter DempseyPeter Dempsey’s run with Belardi Auto Racing will come to a premature close following the news that the team will lack sufficient sponsorship to field the Freedom 100 winner’s campaign at the last two races.

Dempsey and Belardi Auto Racing proudly claimed their first victories together in an unforgettable win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, and Dempsey’s intent to complete his first full season with the team in the Firestone Indy Lights series looked promising.

With just two races to go, the Irish racer lies fifth in the championship and is mathematically still in contention for the title. Despite the possibility, the team felt the odds of becoming the 2013 champions were slim, and the shortage of proper funding weighed in heavier in the decision of whether or not to finish out the season.

“It’s been a pleasure to have Peter with us this season,” said Team Owner Brian Belardi. “He has been a great asset to our team this year on and off the track. I saw a lot of potential in him last year in the races that he ran with us, and I knew with his determination he would find success on the podium with our team, just as he did at the Freedom 100 this year. That incredible finish marked history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and I couldn’t be happier to say he and Belardi Auto Racing both got their first Indy Lights victories there. I enjoyed having him with us this year and I wish him all the best of luck in the rest of his career.”

“It’s very disappointing to not be in a position to finish out the championship with Belardi Auto Racing,” said Dempsey. “However, I do fully understand the unfortunate reasons for their decision. Motorsport is an expensive sport and things like this happen all the time. I’ve really enjoyed the last year with the team. Brian [Belardi] gave me the biggest opportunity anyone has ever given me, and that’s something I will never forget.

“During our time together, we had a lot of success, winning the Freedom 100 and achieving multiple podiums. I worked as hard as I could for the team and brought them the best season they’ve had in the series, and I’m very proud to be a part of that. I now feel that I am more prepared than ever for IndyCar, and I would never have gotten to this point without Belardi Auto Racing. I wish Brian and the team all the best, and I hope they can have more success in the near future.”

Dempsey remains focused on advancing to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2014 and is working hard to raise the necessary sponsorship to earn his seat.

Gabby ChavesFirestone 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.

Gabby ChavesGabby Chaves is now a well-deserved Firestone Indy Lights race winner following a perfect flag-to-flag run this past weekend (August 3-4) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie star made the most of his inaugural series pole position to capture the Round Nine victory, and with the performance moves into second place in the hard-fought title fight with three races to go.

Chaves has been a driver to watch throughout his first Indy Lights campaign with multiple champion Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, challenging for top honors race after race. With six podium finishes to date, the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro racer traveled to Ohio poised to yet again battle for the win.

While things got off to slow start in the opening two practice runs – which featured mixed conditions – with Chaves struggling to find the right balance for the technical Mid-Ohio road course, both he and the team were confident heading into the lone qualifying session on Saturday.

Chaves promptly re-established his position as a series front-runner during the timed run in ideal sunny conditions. As expected, the fight for the pole came down to the final few minutes. The ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive. Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability racer timed his best run to perfection, attacking the track on his final tour to grab his first Indy Lights pole just as the checkered flag waved.

“I knew I had the car from the first lap,” said Chaves. “We struggled in the practice, but we just kept our heads down and focused. Really, when my engineer told me ‘one lap to go, this is it,’ I put everything I had down on the table.

“We’ve yet to get on the front-row for qualifying, so this is the first. For it to be a pole position and to get the first place on the starting grid for tomorrow, hopefully we’ll go for our first victory.”

Returning to the driver’s seat one day later, the goal was simple for Chaves…get a good start and run a mistake-free race. The skilled up-and-comer did just that, holding off the expected challenge when the green flag waved, prior to building a multi-car advantage on his nearest pursuer. While some tire wear and a late-race caution and subsequent re-start provided some entertainment for the large crowd present, Chaves never relinquished the top spot, scoring his first Indy Lights win.

“I crossed the finish line and I didn’t have words. I was just screaming,” commented Chaves. “The feeling of winning, especially when it was so hard, when you come so long and worked so hard to get here, makes it so much more special.”

With the win, Chaves now sits second in the championship standings and leads the Rookie of the Year fight.

Next up for Chaves is Round 10 of the Firestone Indy Lights campaign on August 31-September 1, on the streets of Baltimore.

Photo by Ron Bijlsma.

Gabby ChavesThe quest for a Firestone Indy Lights title resumed in fine fashion for Gabby Chaves on Saturday (July 13), with another trip to the podium in Round Eight on the streets of Toronto, Ont. Further highlighting his skills behind the wheel, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports standout not only briefly challenged for the win in the series return to street racing, but overcame a gearbox issue to earn a third place finish and his third consecutive visit to the post-race celebrations. Chaves, having now finished among the top-three in six of the eight races contested, is third in the championship fight entering the upcoming August race in Ohio.

While Chaves has enjoyed good success in the recent Indy Lights run of oval races, standing on the podium in three of the four races, the 19 year-old was excited to get back to turning both left and right on the streets of Toronto.

With an eye on qualifying and the 50-lap race, Chaves spent the two opening practice sessions around the 1.755-mile streets circuit within the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds working on the setup of his No. 7 Coldeportes / Marca Colombia / RedServi / Tecpro entry. The plan ultimately paid good dividends, as Chaves posted the third best lap in qualifying, earning an inside row two starting position for the Saturday afternoon race.

When the green flag waved to get the action underway for the lone stop ‘North of the Border’ in bright sunshine, Chaves got a great launch, slotting into second place. The ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive. Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability promptly pushed on cold tires attacking the race leader for the top spot. Unable to execute a move position in the early stages, Chaves settled into a fast, but comfortable pace in effort to save his car and tires for a late race charge. While he subsequently came under pressure from the third place driver, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer was poised to take home a well deserved runner-up finish when he suddenly lost second gear. Not surprisingly, the mechanical issue severely hampered Chaves overall pace. Chaves, despite the setback, retained the P2 position for multiple laps, before ultimately relinquishing the place. Remaining focused on running mistake-free over the course of the final few tours, Chaves in the end crossed the line in third place, extending his streak of podium finishes to three.

Chaves now has brief break before returning to the cockpit of his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer on August 3-4, when Round Nine of the Firestone Indy Lights title fight takes place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The highly-regarded race pilot travels to the technical Ohio road course sitting third in the championship standings.

Gabby ChavesThe 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.

Yesterday’s Firestone Indy Lights race at Pocono Raceway was a long and difficult one for Freedom 100 winner Peter Dempsey. A new event this season, the “Tricky Triangle” proved to be a challenging course for Dempsey and the Belardi Auto Racing team.

The Irishman tested well on Friday, despite a minor brush with the wall that caused him to miss most of the second session, but was unable to achieve a speedy qualifying run on Saturday, putting him at the back of the pack for the start of the 40-lap event. Dempsey fought hard to make up positions in the race but could not catch the leaders, and he ultimately brought home a seventh place finish on the tri-oval.

“It was a very difficult weekend for us,” stated Dempsey. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t have it right this weekend, and it made for a long two days. It was difficult to come to Pocono Raceway and compete with Andretti and Schmidt-Peterson especially since they both have IndyCar teams who have had a lot of track time here. Now we have to move on, regroup this week, and get ready to head to Toronto where we are aiming to turn things around. The street course of Toronto is a track I like, and we will all be pushing hard next weekend.”

Dempsey was able to maintain his fourth place spot in the championship points at the conclusion of this weekend. Yesterday’s race also marked the end of the “oval season” for the Firestone Indy Lights series, meaning it’s back to street and road courses until the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in October.

Gabby ChavesGabby 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.

Gabby ChavesRising motorsports star Gabby Chaves (car # 7) made history on Friday (May 24) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, taking home a second place result in the closest finish ever at the famed Indiana oval. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie was poised to win the prestigious Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 when he was just edged at the stripe by an unbelievable 0.0026s. With the frustratingly close runner-up result, Chaves enters the next round having taken over third place in the Mazda Road to Indy series title chase.

As the headline event of the 97th Indianapolis 500 Carb Day, the highly-skilled Indy Lights field rolled on to the front straight of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. Chaves, thanks to strong effort in single-car qualifying one day earlier, lined-up on the outside row poised to challenge for the win. After two pace laps in cool, but warming conditions, the action got underway via a clean start. While the former Formula BMW Americas champion and Italian Formula 3 Championship Rookie of the Year did not get an ideal launch, losing a couple places, he remained calm, aware that he had a car to work his way into the lead pack. Following a brief early race caution period for an incident, Chaves promptly did just that.

For the ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive. Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability, the mid portion of the 40-lap affair was all about strategy. Keeping on an eye on where his competitors were strong and where he had an advantage, Chaves began working out how and when he wanted to make his move for the win.

The fight for the Freedom 100 win, as many expected, came down to the final lap. The battle proved to be one for the ages, as exiting turn two Chaves made it three-wide down the back straight. Amazing onlookers, the lead trio remained side-by-side-by-side through turns three and four, with Chaves on the outside impressively keeping control of his No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro entry. Dragging racing down the front-straight, it appeared Chaves had the advantage, albeit very slight. The fourth place racer, however, had other ideas, and benefiting from a huge draft from the lead trio, he pulled up alongside Chaves, making it four-wide as they approached the checkered flag. In what was record-breaking photo finish, Chaves ended up P2, an improbable 0.0026s behind the winner, setting a new margin of victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Wow what a race!” stated Chaves. “I was saving my tires and car for the end of the race. Things were going according to plan, as I had great momentum going up the back straight and made my move. When we went three-wide and I found some grip, I thought I was in position to win going down the front-straight. I saw Peter [Dempsey] coming right at the end, but didn’t think he had enough. I’m pretty sure I’ll be having nightmares for a few days about how close I got to winning here at Indy. I want to thank my team, my sponsors, and my engineer Chris Finch for the hard work. I wish I could have given them the win.”

Chaves now has a brief break before returning to the cockpit of his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer on June 15, with Round Five at the historic Milwaukee Mile. The highly-regarded rookie enters the race at the fast flat oval currently third in the Firestone Indy Lights title fight.

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 .