RHR leads Andretti on second day of Indy 500 practice

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The day felt like a Tuesday – even though to some, Tuesday has no feel – but the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice felt like a proper Indianapolis 500 practice day with plentiful running throughout the six hours and a boat-load of tows in the final hour to produce the day’s fastest speeds.

The two that emerged fastest on what was the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Monday practice session were a pair of Andretti Autosport teammates, with Ryan Hunter-Reay posting the month’s first 225-mph lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 225.025. Teammates Marco Andretti was over 224, at 224.037. Both had tows from others in the five-car Andretti brigade that also includes Carlos Munoz, Kurt Busch and EJ Viso.

Helio Castroneves, Justin Wilson and Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top five. Those three and Munoz had tow-aided laps north of 223. Busch and Viso cracked the tail end of the top 10 in ninth and 10th, so all five Andretti cars were in the top 10.

Thirty drivers took laps, with the only three that didn’t Sebastian Saavedra as the KV/AFS Racing crew continued repairs on the No. 17 Chevrolet after the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and Buddy Lazier and James Davison.

Only Davison of that trio is on a short program, although Lazier’s pit garage sign was just hung in Gasoline Alley for the first time today, even later than Davison’s had been. More on both of them will follow later this week to MotorSportsTalk.

The track was busy with Hunter-Reay, Montoya, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden all completing north of 100 laps. Many others were in the 80-90 range. In total, nearly 2,300 laps were completed – 2,286 laps were turned on the day.

The third day of practice is set for Tuesday, but, with a 70 percent chance of rain there’s a possibility of a washout. Here’s your Monday times and speeds.


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.