Baron Salvages Tough Weekend for Belardi
 May 13, 2014| 
  • Team News

Indy Lights rookie overcomes bad luck and issues to pair of top-fives

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indy Lights freshman Alex Baron continues to deliver the results that Belardi Auto Racing was looking for when they signed the young pilot to run in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship. The 19-year-old recovered strongly during a tough weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to stand on the podium in the second race of the doubleheader, which was run on the re-designed IMS road course. Brake issues, a blown motor and challenging weather conditions confronted Baron, but he remained focused on the task at hand and turned in an impressive third place result to cap the weekend after fifth on Friday. In contrast, it was a weekend plagued with problems for Gabby Chaves, who has won two races for the team this year. A blown engine in Race #1 dropped him to last in the field, while contact in the second event dropped him to eighth in the final tally.

Coming off a 1-2 finish in the second Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship event at Barber Motorsports Park just two weeks ago, Belardi Auto Racing was focused on maintaining this momentum. Chaves led the speed charts in both practice sessions on Thursday, and then qualified second for the 30-lap sprint race. The weekend strategy was on the mark. Qualifying did not go as planned for Baron, however, as brake issues put him back on pit lane midway through the session after he had climbed to third. The remainder of the field continued to dial in their set-ups, finding more speed, and Baron dropped to sixth at the end of the session.

The opening race started in wet conditions as rain arrived quickly, leaving the teams with the chance to change only wing angles. At the green, Chaves pushed hard to get the lead from polesitter Matthew Brabham, but needed to wait until the second lap to steal the point. It would last less than a lap, as the set-up on Chaves’ Dallara was not ideal and both he and Baron began going backwards. It went from bad to worse for Chaves, as he began losing power and eventually suffered a blown engine that put him in pit lane on lap 18, officially classified in 11th. As the track began to dry, Baron found himself in a fight with Juan Pablo Garcia, but he would persevere to salvage a fifth place finish.

“It was a hard weekend for us at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis,” admitted Chaves, who drops to third in the overall series standings. “I had a very good qualifying session, which put us on the front row of both races. Unfortunately, we started seeing a decline in speed and eventual retirement due to a blown motor. We started Race #2 with a back-up engine and that was very tough as we were consistently losing time on every straight and I could not keep up with the leaders. From here, I think we must hit the reset button and go to the next race like it’s the first of the season and just go for the win. Our comeback will really show what we are truly made of.”

In the second race, Chaves again started second, but the back-up motor did not provide him with the pace he needed to run with the leaders in the perfect weather conditions that arrived on Saturday. The Columbian-American soldiered on to the best of his ability, and had to race hard to finish eighth. Baron started in the sixth position, but was quickly in a fight for higher positions, as the racing in the middle of the pack was aggressive and action-packed. The USF2000 graduate benefitted from the opening lap chaos to grab one position, and then slipped past Race #1 winner Brabham to assume third. Brabham would attempt to close in the late going, but Baron had the speed to hold him on off and score his second podium finish of the year in third.

“We did have the overall performance that we used have,” Baron admitted. “We worked very hard to be back on the top of the charts, for sure. Yes, we didn’t have the best car in the field, but we still managed to score precious point for the championship. We’ve learned so many things that will help us for the events to come. Thank you again to my team for the amazing efforts.”

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About Belardi Auto Racing:
Belardi Auto Racing is an organization comprised of experienced individuals in the racing industry with an aggressive growth strategy and a strong commitment to finishing up front. No stranger to winning, team members having been achieving success in both the amateur and pro ranks for over a decade, winning numerous junior formula car races and championships. Based in Brownsburg, Ind., Belardi Auto Racing contests multi-car efforts in both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series. Goal-oriented and focused on developing the next stars of motorsports, Belardi Auto Racing won in both the Indy Lights and USF2000 Championships in 2013.

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