Shell And Pennzoil Grand Prix Of Houston

IndyCar: GP of Houston preparing for second chance


Last year’s Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston was not an altogether pleasant weekend.

The Houston doubleheader last October may have revived the Verizon IndyCar Series championship race going into the season finale, but that aspect was overshadowed by a pesky bump in Turn 1, a constantly revised schedule of events, and of course, the crash that ended the career of Dario Franchitti and injured 13 fans via flying debris.

Now the series is set to head back there at the end of the month, and naturally, there are questions about what the promoters are doing to ensure that this year’s running is less troubled.

ABC affiliate KTRK reports grandstands in some of the track’s high-speed areas are being pushed farther away, presumably in response to the Franchitti wreck that took place in Turn 5 of the temporary circuit at NRG Park.

Franchitti was sent airborne and slammed hard into the catch fence, spraying debris all over the course and into a nearby seating area.

Course designer Martyn Thake told KTRK that the crash was a perfect storm of circumstances.

“There are racing incidents,” he said to the station. “If you would’ve sat down and tried to describe [the crash] to me, I would’ve said a million to one shot.

“It’s just a matter of everything happening at the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Additionally, some parts of the circuit are also getting a repave to make things smoother. The Associated Press relays word from Thake that the Turn 1 area has been demolished and new concrete is being poured there.

Construction of the Grand Prix track began with a ceremony today that saw Will Power, Takuma Sato, and Mikhail Aleshin get inside forklifts and move the first barriers into place. The trio also signed autographs for local fans.

The Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston will air LIVE on NBCSN June 28 and 29 at 3 p.m. ET.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
Leave a comment

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
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.