Two years ago, IndyCar tried something at the Iowa Speedway it hadn’t done before: a grid run with Robin Miller and that year’s Indianapolis 500 champion, the late Dan Wheldon.
Versus, the previous iteration of the NBC Sports Network, had brought in Wheldon at Texas and Iowa to provide expert analysis since his only drive to that point was at Indianapolis. Wheldon had starred in the booth at Texas and came down to pit road at Iowa to help cover the field with Miller.
It was a surprising but great moment that IndyCar fans cherished (watch this video courtesy of IndyCar’s Twitter “link master” Matt Archuleta, better known as @Indy44). Miller’s “Grid runs” have now become a regular part of the NBCSN IndyCar broadcasts – last week at Milwaukee, he and NBC Formula One pit reporter Will Buxton had the opportunity to do one together.
Defending series champion and Iowa race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay remembers this moment with Wheldon for another reason: it was the weekend he’d forgot his wallet at dinner.
“I didn’t realize I had no money until we were about to get up and leave,” Hunter-Reay told the Des Moines Register, reflecting on that evening at a Mexican restaurant. “(Wife) Beccy didn’t have anything, either. The only other people in the restaurant at the time were Dan, Susie and Mickey. I had to crawl over and ask for a loan.”
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.