Photo: IndyCar

Gabby Chaves’ Indy 500 ride confirmed with Harding Racing

Leave a comment

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Gabby Chaves will make his third Indianapolis 500 start, having been confirmed in a new Harding Group with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry under the Harding Racing banner.

The 2014 Indy Lights champion overachieved massively in his first full season of IndyCar in 2015, winning both Indianapolis 500 and series rookie-of-the-year honors with Bryan Herta Autosport. But BHA’s financial struggles over the subsequent offseason left Chaves stranded through no fault of his own, and opened the door for Alexander Rossi to enter as part of the subsequent BHA-Andretti Autosport partnership formed.

Chaves drove a partial 2016 season with Dale Coyne Racing and had been rumored for a couple months to be part of this year’s 2017 race, with formal confirmation coming on Monday. With Zach Veach and Jack Harvey announced over the weekend, Chaves today and at least one more announcement due to arrive later this week, the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil is nearing the 33-car threshold.

DRR will field a single-car entry for Sage Karam, Chaves’ old Indy Lights teammate in 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, to keep the youth movement going.

From the release:

The Harding Group has been an instrumental partner with Indianapolis Motor Speedway in paving projects and client hospitality. For the first time this May, the company will field a car in the Indianapolis 500 with the formation of Harding Racing announced today.

Mike Harding – owner and president of Harding Group, the Indianapolis-based concrete and asphalt paving company started by his father, Fred, in 1960 – is the race team’s owner. Larry Curry, a fixture running Indy car racing programs for years, is the team manager and competition director. The team plans to attend Wednesday’s open test at Texas Motor Speedway for Chaves to complete an oval refresher test and turn valuable practice laps for the first time in Chevrolet equipment.

“I’m excited to be working with car owner Mike Harding on forming his new Indy car team and we are very lucky to have driver Gabby Chaves, along with Chevrolet,” Curry said. “We have assembled a great team and are looking forward to our shakedown test in Texas on Wednesday.”

Chaves will also benefit from the experience of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., who is serving as the team’s driving instructor. Matt Curry, Larry’s son who worked last season for AJ Foyt Racing and was an engineer on Tony Kanaan’s Indy 500-winning effort in 2013 with KV Racing Technology, will be the lead engineer.

“I have complete faith and confidence that our engine partner Chevy will give us the best package and support to give our Harding Racing machine a chance to challenge for the win,” Chaves said. “I’ve had good races at IMS, although the result has never come together. But I think this is the year that I really have to put it together to get the result. That’s my main focus, and I definitely think I’m going to have one of the best programs out there among those focused on Indy only.

“Again, I’m just extremely happy and grateful for the opportunity I have, and I can’t wait to get the month started.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.