Chaves scores first Firestone Indy Lights win at Mid-Ohio

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Gabby Chaves took his first Firestone Indy Lights Series victory of the season and of his career from pole position, to move into title contention for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. It was a flag-to-flag victory but the Colombian had to work for it.

“Amazing, amazing feeling,” said Chaves. “Peter had the pace most of Saturday. I threw a fast one out on the last lap. It could have been different if I didn’t.”

A late-race caution for Giancarlo Serenelli stopped on track brought the field back together. On the restart, Chaves (pictured right, photo by INDYCAR) got enough of a jump to hold off Peter Dempsey. Dempsey, despite his effort, had to settle for second.

“I had to stay on defense, and I lost a lot on the tires after the restart,” Chaves explained.  “But within a lap or so we got back going.”

Dempsey agreed with the tire issues on the restart: “It was tricky because we had lost a lot of grip.”

Jack Hawksworth held off Carlos Munoz to third, after Munoz put in a dogged charge back through the field from an early race off course excursion.

Munoz dropped from fourth to 10th in the process. But from there, Munoz charged back through the field – which seems almost unfathomable at a track not known for a ton of passing and with a spec car. He rebounded to fourth and hounded Hawksworth for third, trying to pass him on either side but unable to complete the move.

Zach Veach finished fifth while Sage Karam, Munoz’s closest rival entering the race, finished a disappointing eighth.

Unofficially, Munoz leads Chaves by 15 points, with Karam, Hawksworth and Dempsey all in the top five. Just 43 points separates the top five with three races to go.