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Gabby Chaves’ Indy 500 ride confirmed with Harding Racing

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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.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.