Indianapolis 500

Chevrolet earns first Indy 500 win since 2002

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This time, Chevrolet made sure they wouldn’t be surprised on Race Day at the Indianapolis 500.

In 2012, the Bowtie Brigade put eight of its cars in the top nine starting positions at Indy only to see the Honda-powered Target Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon finish first and second in the race. But on Sunday, Chevy-powered cars swept the top four spots with winner Tony Kanaan (pictured), runner-up Carlos Munoz, third-place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay and fourth-place finisher Marco Andretti.

Kanaan’s victory was the first for Chevy at the “500” since Helio Castroneves notched his second win at the Brickyard in 2002, and its eighth “500” triumph overall – a resounding response to Honda’s rally one year ago.

“Tony drove a great race, and the team executed flawlessly,” said Jim Campbell, Chevy’s U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. “Their total focus was on driving to the front of the field.  Tony and the No. 11 team demonstrated tremendous teamwork, perseverance and a never-give-up-attitude all day.”

“A proud congratulations to Tony Kanaan and the entire Chevrolet-powered KV Racing Technology team for winning the 97th Indy 500,” said Chevy IndyCar manager Chris Berube. “The win was hard fought through a record number of lead changes and clean, close racing. We are so proud of the tireless efforts put in by KV Racing and our technical partners to prepare for the race and executed it so well. On to Detroit where Team Chevy will carry the momentum of this great result to the Dual in Detroit on Belle Isle!”

While Justin Wilson came on late with a fifth-place result, the majority of the Honda camp was never really a factor on Sunday. A stronger effort in the final practice on Friday raised thoughts of their performance last May, but an encore never truly came close to materializing as the Bowtie dominated the proceedings.

Chevy also netted seven of the Top 10 spots at the checkered flag, adding in results for Helio Castroneves in sixth, A.J. Allmendinger in seventh and pole sitter Ed Carpenter in 10th. The Indiana native led a race-high 37 laps but was unable to break through traffic late due to a push condition on his car.

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.