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Briscoe stays in one place for all of next weekend: Toronto with Panther

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For the second weekend in a row, Ryan Briscoe will have two races. The difference is, this time they’ll be in the same car at the same track.

The Australian stays aboard the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ trip to the streets of Toronto this upcoming weekend, for the doubleheader Honda Indy Toronto.

He’s coming off a weekend where he won the P2 class in the American Le Mans Series in his Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b, then rose from 24th and last to 14th on Sunday in the Panther Chevrolet in Pocono. The P2 win was controversial after late race contact with another HPD, driven by Guy Cosmo of Extreme Speed Motorsports.

Panther Racing managing partner John Barnes confirmed the news via Twitter Monday morning.

Barnes likes Briscoe enough that it seems he’s working to keep him for as many races as possible, even despite the schedule conflicts with ALMS, and the fact Oriol Servia has also raced the No. 4 car and has no other conflicts.

Briscoe has racked up the frequent flier miles over the last two months. Starting May 11 in Monterey, he raced the Level 5 HPD there, then headed to Indianapolis to drive Chip Ganassi’s fourth car for the month of May.

In June, he made his Panther debut at Detroit, flew to Le Mans to test the Level 5 HPD, flew back to Milwaukee for Panther, flew back to Le Mans for the 24-hour race, then had an off weekend before resuming with the doubleheader across states and series this past weekend.

There are two more weekend conflicts the remainder of this season between IndyCar and ALMS. On October 5-6, IndyCar is in Houston while ALMS is at Virginia on the Saturday, and on Oct. 19, both have their season finales in Fontana (IndyCar) and Atlanta (ALMS). The Atlanta race starts earlier in the day.

Oh, and there’s also Baltimore Aug. 31-Sept. 1 when IndyCar and ALMS share the weekend, and Briscoe could hop between both cars. At this point, you can’t rule anything out about where and in what car he’ll be racing the rest of the year.

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.