No joke: James Jakes is in a real Acorn Stairlifts ad

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s James Jakes has been much improved this year in this, his third season in the IZOD IndyCar Series. So much so, in fact, I called him the “Most Improved First-Half Driver” in MotorSportsTalk’s IndyCar midseason review.

So I knew his on-track form was good, but I didn’t know he had any acting ability in him. Until I saw this commercial.

You may have seen it during NBC Sports Network’s coverage of both Honda Indy Toronto races, but Jakes is now appearing in an ad for his sponsor Acorn Stairlifts.

It does its best “Driven” imitation by starting in Long Beach’s pit lane, then shifting to Indianapolis, and then into some random commercial house where “Jakesy” can take off his helmet, install an Acorn Stairlift, then teleport back to Indy with his helmet on and drive off.

Now, there’s been something of a running joke in IndyCar circles that until this year, Jakes was IndyCar’s version of “The Stig.”  You rarely, if ever, heard him speak on TV, and it was just as rare that he had his helmet off to expose his sharp, blonde hair.

So the commercial could have played to that a little better if Jakes didn’t lose his helmet at one point or another. And hell, it is funny to note that Acorn Stairlifts doesn’t even mention Jakes by name – instead, just having his name next to an RLL logo on the bottom of the screen at the end of the ad.

All that said, Jakes has been something of a revelation this year because his pace has been staggering – he’s beat his more heralded teammate Graham Rahal in qualifying for seven of the last nine races – and the more you hear him talk, the more you realize how sharp he is. It makes his fan club – “Jakesy Nation” – all the smarter for picking up on all he has to offer before the rest of us.

And now he has 30 seconds of glory, albeit back in his Stig-like state of anonymity.

Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

Photo: IndyCar
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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.

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