MIAMI, FLA. – Rising motorsports star Gabby Chaves 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.
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.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports