2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona - Preview

Rolex 24 GTD class pole winner, others penalized (UPDATED)

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UPDATE (8:58 p.m. ET): Post-qualifying inspection failures have resulted in three cars having their Rolex 24 at Daytona qualifying times disallowed, including the GTD class pole-winning No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8.

Christopher Haase had taken the No. 48 to P1 on the GTD charts but IMSA officials found an unapproved rear wing endplate on the Audi and have subsequently sent it to the rear of the field for Saturday’s race.

Another quick GTD machine, the No. 46 Fall Line Motorsports Audi R8, has suffered the same fate because of a ride-height violation. The car had originally qualified third in the class.

Finally, the No. 78 Starworks Motorsport Prototype was popped in inspection for both a ride-height violation and the use of an unapproved aerodynamic device. Brendon Hartley had originally put the No. 78 third on both the overall and Prototype grids.

With all of that taken into account, the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia (GRAND-AM GT driver’s champion Alessandro Balzan/Toni Vilander/Jeff Westphal/Lorenzo Case) has been elevated to pole in GTD. Corsa’s sister Ferrari, the No. 65, is now second on the class grid, and the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 shall line up third.

As for the Prototype grid, everyone from fourth on back will now move up one position.

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing took the overall and P class pole position in the hands of Alex Gurney, in the No. 99 Corvette DP. Before the penalty to the Starworks No. 78, Gurney’s lap of 1:38.270 led seven straight Daytona Prototypes, with the DeltaWing eighth in the hands of Katherine Legge and the fastest P2 car only 11th, 1.5 seconds behind the overall pole.

Colin Braun followed up his early pace in the day’s two practice sessions to earn the PC class pole in his No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09. Braun, a veteran of several Rolex 24s in DPs and GT cars, said he was adjusting to racing at Daytona with the expanded field of vision from an open cockpit car.

In GTLM, the No. 91 Viper GTS-R, driven by Marc Goossens, posted a flier of 1:44.506 to lead one of the factory Porsche 911s, the second Viper, the No. 4 Corvette C7.R and second Porsche in the class top five.

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.