Emotional Victory for Chaves at Freedom 100
 May 23, 2014| 
  • Team News

Photo finish favors Belardi Auto Racing driver to score third win of season

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.  – Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always a special opportunity, and victory is a prestigious accomplishment. Mazda Road to Indy standout Gabby Chaves has now secured his name in the history books of famed 2.5-mile oval, crossing the ‘Yard of Bricks’ first during this year’s Freedom 100 in yet another thrilling finish. The seventh round of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was held during the annual ‘Carb Day’ of this year’s Indianapolis 500, and Chaves improved on his runner-up finish from 2013 by handing his Belardi Auto Racing team their second straight oval victory at IMS, all while putting him into the championship lead. It was a tremendous run for the driver with IndyCar dreams, as the Columbia-American worked his way into second on the final lap to set up the run for the win. The final drag race to the line come out in Chaves’ favor this year, as he edged Matthew Brabham by 0.005 seconds at the line. Being able to prove his abilities at the Speedway, in front of the IndyCar paddock, was an important accomplishment.

“I said to my team before the weekend started that we need to get back to the basics, and that means racing because we love it and we want to have fun,” Chaves admitted, having battled through a tough weekend at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis just two weeks earlier. “That’s exactly what I did out there today, I had fun. I put myself in a position to win the race on the last lap and went for it when I saw the opportunity…and this time, we did it!”

Chaves, who finished in runner-up position in last year’s historic photo finish, put his Coldeportes / Marca Pais Colombia / Federacion Colombiana de Automovilismo Deportivo Dallara fifth on the grid following the two-lap qualifying session on Thursday (May 22) with an average speed of 186.136 mph. This put him on the inside of row three for the start of the 40-lap race. The event began with Chaves running among a five-driver breakaway for the lead, with the second-year driver feeling out both his fellow competitors and the racetrack itself.

Following a caution on lap 14 that lasted for eight laps, the remainder of the race stayed green with Chaves looking for his way to the front. On lap 24, Gabby took the lead for the first time and held the position for five circuits to test the waters out front before settling back into the third position. As the laps wound down, it was time to go to work. To begin the final lap, Chaves was able to draft by Zack Veach to move to second in turn one, although his car got really loose coming through the corner. The 20-year-old maintained his poise and showed his talent and maturity as he gathered things back up and set off to reel in the leader. Gabby pushed his Belardi Auto Racing machine down the backstretch and through the final corners, catching a great draft to pull alongside the leader for a drag race to the checkered flag. At the line, Chaves claimed the victory by a slim five thousandths of a second, recording the third closest finish in Indy Lights history.

“I want to be in the Verizon IndyCar Series next year and it’s important to me to show the team owners that I know how to win,” Chaves continued. “I want them to know that I have the passion and drive to succeed and that when I’m in the position to win, I can make it happen. I think I showed some of that today. It was an incredible finish and I’m proud to have brought this win to Brian (Belardi), Geoff (Fickling) and the whole Belardi team.”

The win was Chaves’ third of the year, advancing him into the championship lead at the halfway point of the 2014 Indy Lights season. Gabby and his Belardi Auto Racing team will continue their quest of the Indy Lights championship crown on July 6 as the series hosts round eight at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway oval in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.

About Gabby Chaves:
Widely considered one the premier up-and-coming drivers in the junior formula car ranks, Chaves has made a name for himself by winning races and challenging for championship titles. The Columbia-American first got behind the wheel of a racecar at the age of 13, winning a Skip Barber Racing Shootout scholarship. In his first full-season of competition, the multi-time karting champion captured the Colombian Grand Prix Formula Renault 2000 title and finished as the series runner-up in the Skip Barber Eastern Regional Series. Building on this success, Chaves went undefeated in the 2006-07 Skip Barber Regional Southern Series, winning all 10 races. The teenager continued his winning ways one year later, extending his Skip Barber Racing victory streak to 17 consecutive victories, leading the Skip Barber National Series before making the switch to Formula BMW Pacific competition. Chaves returned to the top of the championship charts in 2009, winning the final Formula BMW Americas title with five wins and podium finishes in every race. In 2010, Chaves raced full-time in Europe, winning the Italian Formula 3 Championship Rookie of the Year award. The teenager made his GP3 Series debut in 2011, earning five top-10 finishes. Chaves returned to North America in 2012, competing in the Mazda Road to Indy-backed Star Mazda Championship, where he finished as the title runner-up with two wins. Chaves competed in the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights series with multiple champion Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finishing as the championship runner-up, and for 2014, he has joined Belardi Auto Racing for an all-out attack on the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title.

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