Quaker State 400 - Practice

Keselowski takes 4th consecutive win in Nationwide Series

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Brad Keselowski has won his fourth consecutive start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, taking the lead with 17 laps to go and holding off Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. to win the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.

Keselowski, driving the No. 22 Ford Mustang, lost the lead to his other Penske teammate, Joey Logano, shortly after a restart with 21 laps to go. But with Logano also trying to stretch his fuel, Keselowski and Hornish both managed to get past him in Turn 1 just four laps later.

From there, Hornish was able to keep the pressure on until the final handful of laps, as Keselowski eventually pulled away to a 1.4-second win.

“I thought he was going to beat me – I tell you what, [Sam’s] a hell of a road course racer,” Keselowski said to ESPN about his final laps. “…I made a couple little mistakes and I thought he’d get me to be quite honest. I was just trying not to make any huge ones.”

Hornish wasn’t able to get the win, but was able to pull within three points of NNS points leader Austin Dillon, who finished 12th on Saturday.

“I was over-driving the crap out of the car trying to pressure Brad into making a mistake,” said Hornish. “I got him to get into Turn 1 hard a couple times, but I just wore my stuff out doing everything I could do to figure out how to keep the pressure on.”

Brian Vickers secured a third-place result after Logano eventually ran out of fuel with two laps remaining (he finished 21st). Fourth place went to Regan Smith, while Elliott Sadler completed the Top 5.

Going back to the NNS championship, the Top 5 is now separated by 18 points. Smith is third at five points behind Dillon, while Sadler is fourth at 12 points back and Vickers is fifth at 18 points back.

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.