IMSA: Taylor brothers score one last one for “The Mullet” with Detroit victory

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The Taylor brothers are often in the headlines a lot for their quirkiness, and Jordan Taylor’s mullet.

But in what was “The Mullet’s” swan song, Taylor’s brother Ricky delivered a victory in the fifth TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype class race of the season, after a dramatic bang-it-up battle with Joao Barbosa in a similar Corvette Daytona Prototype in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.

Ricky Taylor, in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry and Barbosa, in the No. 5 Action Express Racing entry, made contact on the final lap. Barbosa limped his car around to the finish with a damaged left rear, while Taylor held on with a wounded car as a hard charging Richard Westbrook, in another Corvette DP, nearly made it past.

As Westbrook closed in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona entry, Taylor had enough of a car left to hold on for the win on the 2.35-mile street course. With three runner-up finishes this year, this was a big breakthrough for the No. 10 car.

“For those last couple laps it was really tooth and nail,” Ricky Taylor said. “I was giving it everything I had, on the restart I had a really good gap, but once I went into defensive mode, I didn’t know how many laps I had on him, he was definitely strong. When he put us in the wall the only thing I was thinking was either he is going to have a tire go down or I was definitely going to break because it was a hard hit. But I couldn’t be happier for our guys, after driving with the Spirit of Daytona last year I found out how hard those guys work so it’s nice to see the team on the podium with us as well.”

From Westbrook’s vantage point? “I thought they were going to take each other off,” he said, after finishing a season-best second with co-driver Michael Valiante.

It was roughly the sports car equivalent of the 1997 CART race at Detroit, when both PacWest Racing Group teammates Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell ran out of fuel from the lead, which allowed Greg Moore to sneak past and take the win.

Behind the Corvettes, OAK Racing secured its first podium in the TUDOR Championship with Gustavo Yacaman and Olivier Pla finishing third in the No. 42 Morgan Nissan. Michael Shank Racing finished a season-best fourth with Ozz Negri and John Pew in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley with the No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp P5.

In GT Daytona, the 2013 Rolex Series GT champion Scuderia Corsa team took its first win of the season with Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal in the No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. The pair finished second in this race last year, and now, the team matches its 2013 win total (Kansas Speedway).

The No. 23 Team Seattle/AJR entry recorded its season-best finish of second with Ian James and Mario Farnbacher in their Porsche 911 GT America. The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS made it back-to-back podium finishes with Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller in third place, after finishing second at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the beginning of the month.

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.