IndyCar: Despite miserable weekend, Power retains points lead

Leave a comment

Will Power’s weekend at Houston included: Two 18th place starting positions, an unforced error Saturday, a late-race mechanical issue Sunday, his first race where he didn’t finish on the lead lap, and two finishes outside the top-10.

It was not a great weekend for the Australian – it was nearly as bad as his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves’ 2013 Houston debacle – but yet Power retained what Castroneves didn’t coming out of the event last October, in the form of the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead.

Power’s Sunday race in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet saw him again roll off 18th, as the team missed the setup in qualifying for a second straight day.

But by the end of the first pit stop cycle, Power suddenly appeared third in the running order. He’d had a ridiculously strong first stint where he was passing cars almost at will.

However, a parts failure with just two laps remaining cost him the podium finish he appeared poised to gain. Power fell to 11th in the second Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston race of the weekend, after ending 14th on Saturday.

“It was a great first stint; we passed a lot of cars and got up to third,” Power told NBCSN post-race. “But it’s tough to fight that hard and not come away with anything. A part that failed on two other cars at Indy road race … rattled around, and it just failed completely at the end there with two to go.”

Despite his issues, Power left Houston with the same 39-point gap he had entering the weekend on Castroneves. Castroneves was ninth on Saturday and crashed out on Sunday after making contact with Sebastien Bourdais.

The crazy weekend that took its toll on the rest of the field meant no one driver was really able to maximize points. Only Sebastien Bourdais, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti scored top-10 finishes in both races.

Power now heads to Pocono next week, where last year he finished fourth and was the only Chevrolet runner in the top-five. The Ganassi team swept the podium with its trio of Hondas and Josef Newgarden finished fifth in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda.

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.