Hondy Indy 200 Practice

First-timers Davison, Filippi find problems in IndyCar quals

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Dale Coyne Racing’s James Davison and Barracuda Racing’s Luca Filippi (pictured) – who are both making their IZOD IndyCar Series debut in tomorrow’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – will have to come from the back of the grid after their Saturday qualifying sessions went sour.

Early in the first round, Davison made contact with Ed Carpenter in Turn 6 while attempting to warm up the tires on his No. 18 Honda. The incident forced Carpenter to pit for a new nose cone and both drivers were unable to advance into the second round.

“He was going to the left to set up for Turn 6 and turned right back in the front of me when I was making a run on him,” Carpenter said. “I’ve been there. There’s a lot going on. But he’s not paying attention to what’s going on.

“If that’s how he’s going to drive in tomorrow’s race, he’s going to end up getting run into.”

Davison would post a time of 1 minute, 6.2839 seconds but will have to start 17th. Carpenter will start on the inside of the final row alongside Filippi, who appeared to have carried over his strong pace from Friday practice.

Unfortunately for him, he lost control of the No. 98 Barracuda Honda while on his first flying lap of the session and hit the tire barriers near Turn 12 to bring out the red flag.

Filippi was running fourth in his qualifying group at the time, but INDYCAR rules state that any driver who causes a red flag during qualifying sessions will have his/her two fastest laps not be counted. With those times wiped away, his third-best lap of 1 minute, 6.8757 seconds put him 24th on tomorrow’s grid.

“We were close to the guys on top and I had a great feeling, so it’s really a shame for the Barracuda Racing team,” said Filippi, who replaces long-time veteran Alex Tagliani this weekend in the No. 98. “We’ve had a great weekend, so we’ll keep working hard and aim for a good finish in the race tomorrow.”

Watch tomorrow’s Honda Indy 200 from Mid-Ohio online and on your mobile device.

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.