Belardi Auto Racing Scores Indy Lights Championship
 August 27, 2014| 
  • Team News
Gabby Chaves posts pair of podium finishes in Sonoma to clinch title

SONOMA, Calif. – On Sunday evening at Jacuzzi Winery in Napa, California, during the annual Mazda Road to Indy season-end awards banquet, Belardi Auto Racing celebrated winning the highest prize available in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the championship title. On the strength of a pair of runner-up finishes at Sonoma Raceway in the doubleheader finale, the team’s star driver Gabby Chaves narrowly out-scored British driver Jack Harvey to give Belardi its first Indy Lights championship after just four years in the program. The prestigious triumph broke the stranglehold that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports had on the crown, and has positioned the Belardi operation as the team to beat in 2015. With the new Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 primed for its debut next year, the future is extremely bright as the team will have at least two seats available for the new season, having announced its commitment to purchase a minimum of two cars.

“It’s hard to put into words what it means to me for our team to have won this Indy Lights championship,” admitted an emotional Brian Belardi, team owner. “We’ve worked extremely hard over the last four years building our program, and I made some key acquisitions in the off-season to strengthened both my driver line-up and my engineering staff. I wanted this championship and putting Gabby in the car was a big step in making it happen. Adding Geoff Fickling and Kent Boyer to engineer their respective cars was also crucial. This team just came together and gave Gabby the tools he needed to put his talent on display.”

Chaves entered the weekend with a slim seven-point leading in the championship standings, and the team devised a calculated game plan to ensure that he would accrue the necessary points to win the title. A key factor in the win was the decision to forego using their full allotment of Cooper tires during the qualifying run, which meant relinquishing the race one pole position and subsequent bonus point to title challenger Harvey. While Chaves maintained the second position in qualifying, just three tenths off of the polesitter, this call provided Gabby with a fresh set of tires for Saturday’s opening event and he used the new rubber to lay down the fastest lap of the race. This secured the bonus point that goes to the driver turning the fastest race lap, which extended his point lead to 12 markers heading to Saturday after Harvey scored the win to leapfrog from third to second over Zack Veach in the standings.

With the calculations complete, Chaves would need only to finish second on Sunday to secure the title, which he would win through a tiebreaker with Harvey that would come down to the number of second place finishes each driver has recorded.  Chaves and Harvey both tallied 547 points and four race wins, so the tiebreaker continued. Thanks to an incredible season of consistency from the opener in St. Petersburg all the way to the finale in Sonoma, Chaves had five runner-up finishes to go with his four wins. For Belardi it was the culmination of four years of hard work and passionate support for the program. It also proved Brian Belardi’s belief in the talents of Gabby Chaves. For the young Colombian-American pilot, the title will provide a valuable asset, which is the funding necessary to begin the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series and a guaranteed program to take a run at qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

Chaves was understandably thrilled and emotionally ecstatic with the championship triumph. “Let me just start by saying THANK YOU to everyone at Belardi Auto Racing for believing in me,” Chaves began. “What a season! If someone told me before we began that we were going to win the two biggest races - Long Beach and the Freedom 100 – AND the championship, I would have probably laughed a little at the optimism. But we did it. We won four times, started on the front row nine times and are now the series champions. This is a dream come true and my preparation for IndyCar 2015 begins today!"

With Chaves now focusing on his 2015 IndyCar program, Belardi and his team will now look towards assembling their driver line-up for next year while anticipating the delivery of their new Dallaras ahead of the first official test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in mid-December.

“With our first championship now in the books, we’re committing fully to defending the crown and further cementing our position as the top team in the Indy Lights paddock,” Belardi continued. “I’m excited with some of the things we have in the works and I look forward to talking to potential drivers for 2015. We’ve put deposits in for two cars but I’d definitely look at expanding that order for the right drivers. We accomplished our ultimate goal this year with the title, but I want more next year, which means the Team Championship as well.”

Additional information on Belardi Auto Racing can be obtained from their website @ or by contacting Brian Belardi via or at 317-456-2816.  Keep up to date via Twitter @Belardi Racing and on the team’s Facebook page @ Belardi Auto Racing.

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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