Pippa Mann

Four women will take the green flag at Indianapolis


For the first time since 2011, four female drivers will be racing at the Indianapolis 500. Today, three of them — Dale Coyne Racing’s Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann (pictured), as well as 33rd and final qualifier Katherine Legge from Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey Motorsports — joined KV Racing Technology’s Simona de Silvestro (24th position) on the starting grid for next Sunday’s race.

Beatriz and Mann will be in the middle and outside of Row 10 respectively, joining rookie driver Tristan Vautier in that spot on the grid. Both DCR competitors posted four-lap averages in the low 224s; Beatriz at 224.184 mph in the No. 18 Ipiranga entry and Mann at 224.005 mph in her No. 63 Cyclops Gear car.

“We were a mile [per hour] slower than we were yesterday, so that broke my heart a little bit, watching the dash,” said Beatriz after her run. “…This is my second time for Bump Day, and it is very stressful.”

“It would have been great to get back out there this afternoon and do some race running, but we were a little too close to the bubble and nervous,” Mann admitted. “However, it was a wonderful feeling as those nerves began to dissipate and we started to smile and realize we’d made it in.”

Legge was on the bubble for much of the afternoon with an average of 223.176 miles per hour, but stayed in the show as it became clear that Michel Jourdain, Jr. would be unable to match that speed.

She had logged less than 20 laps in her car before going out to qualify this afternoon and with that in mind, she is looking forward to getting more laps in on Friday (Carb Day), which will be her last chance to practice before the race.

“I’m not under any illusions that we’re likely to win, but stranger things have happened, and I have a really good race car,” she said. “It’s going to be about being smart; it’s going to be about getting through the field. We ran in traffic today for 10, 15 laps. The car feels pretty very good.

“If we have a decent Carb Day, I think top 10 has to be our goal. I really think the car is capable of that, so then it’s just down to me.”

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.