IMSA: Extreme Speed going for Long Beach double shot

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The Patron Showcase, third round of this year’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, provides an excellent opportunity for Extreme Speed Motorsports to repeat its P2 class win of 2013.

Difference would be, in 2014, it would be an overall triumph in the Prototype category.

The pair of Tequila Patron-sponsored Nos. 1 and 2 HPD ARX-03bs are the only two P2-spec cars in the 11-car P class field raced by the same team in 2013. The Morgan Nissan package has experience in the hands of Conquest Racing two years ago, but this marks OAK Racing’s first Long Beach appearance; meanwhile the SpeedSource Multimatic-built Mazda SKYACTIV-D diesels are making their inaugural Long Beach voyage.

For all of the P2-spec cars, this will mark their first Long Beach runs on the Continental tires.

ESM’s Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo won last year and Sharp looks for the encore with Ryan Dalziel in the No. 1 entry. Dalziel stoked the social media fire with this tweet earlier on Tuesday.

With that level of retweets, and the extra motivation to bounce back from his and the team’s near miss at Sebring last month, Dalziel is primed to bring ESM the win on Saturday.

“One of the reasons I wanted to race in the USA was the awesome street courses and none are better than Long Beach,” the flying Scot said in the team’s pre-race release. “Traffic will be a factor like all of our races but with only two classes and the new IMSA rules, I think this race will come down to the team that has the best pit stops and the fastest car.”
“We were so close at Sebring and I think we all still feel we were robbed of the win, so we are going into Long Beach with a winning mindset.”

Sharp, a Long Beach veteran with starts in both open-wheel and sports cars, embraces the challenge of the 100-minute street fight.

“It is an aggressive 100-minute ‘take no prisoners’ sprint race,” he said. “You sometimes only get one chance to make a pass so you have to go for it when you can. When you combine the excitement of the race with the fantastic Long Beach crowd and Tequila Patrón’s sponsorship of the race, to say we are ready to hit the streets and go after that win – that’s an understatement.”

Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek bring the No. 2 to the race too, and seek to improve on their best result of the year, fifth achieved last time out at Sebring.

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.