Hondy Indy 200 Practice

Late yellow puts damper on solid days for Luca Filippi, Will Power


As the old saying goes, timing is everything.

On Lap 64 of today’s Race 1 for the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, race leader Scott Dixon ducked into the pits just before the yellow came out for the stopped car of Oriol Servia. That proved to be a very timely caution for Dixon – who went on to win the race – but a very unlucky one for his two pursuers at the time, Luca Filippi (pictured) and Will Power.

Filippi and Power stayed out under the yellow after they had both pitted on Lap 37, but still needed to make another stop. When Takuma Sato went into the tires at Turn 3 on Lap 73, both drivers came in for service during the caution and their potential podium runs came to an end; Filippi would finish 10th (his first Top-10 finish in IndyCar), while Power settled for 12th.

Despite the final outcome, Filippi looked impressive today at Reliant Park, mixing it up with the leaders for much of the afternoon.

“I think we had a great race,” he said in a team statement. “We had a great strategy and we were fast, but it was just unlucky that the yellow came at the wrong moment. I think we did the right thing. We were pushing hard and we were driving faster than most of the teams out there, so I believe it was a good call to stay out. I think we did everything right, but it was just bad luck.

“The car was great to drive. Day by day, we are improving. The team and I work well together, and we continue to make steps in the right direction, which is the most difficult thing in any sport. I think we have to be proud about it.”

As for Power, he admitted that his result was “very disappointing” but still looked to tomorrow’s second race of the weekend.

“Obviously, that yellow flag was good for Dixon in the points,” Power said. “It ruined our day and a few other people’s, as well. We know we have a strong car here in Houston, and we will give it a go in tomorrow’s second race and hope for a better finish.”

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.