Despite steering issue, Chaves scores season-best P9 in Detroit

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Among the drivers who either equaled or set their best career results in Detroit on Sunday was Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Gabby Chaves, who finished ninth in the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda for Bryan Herta Autosport.

The ninth place ended a string of consistent, but lower than hoped for results of 15th through 18th place finishes, where Chaves had finished in each of the first seven races.

Sunday in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans race two almost produced the same result. A mid-race steering wheel change – the same issue as affected Will Power – dropped Chaves down the order, and took him out of a potential top-five finish.

Still, it marked the best result of the season for the rookie.

“Yeah, it looked like any restart was always a close call,” Chaves told MotorSportsTalk post-race. “Our car didn’t feel like we were too good on full wet conditions but as it started drying we got competitive even on the wet tires.

“On dries, the car turned on. We got a few positions on luck. We made some overtakes. Unfortunately somewhere in that point our steering wheel broke and we had to make an unscheduled stop when we were already good on fuel to make it to the end. We were on the same strategy as top four guys. We lost a few spots there.”

The result capped off a trying weekend for the team, which struggled for pace and on setup on Friday and left Chaves 23rd and last on the grid going into race one.

“Having one of the toughest weekends we’ve had so far, not really being able to figure what to do figure out with the car, it was good to at least see we made the progress in the race,” Chaves said. “We made some overtakes and got our best finish. Now we go to Texas. We should be strong on the ovals.”

The result came as Chaves’ team owner, Herta, and spotter Mike Burrell were in Fort Lauderdale for the Red Bull Global Rallycross opener. Patrik Sandell and Austin Dyne raced the two GRC Supercars with Colette Davis in the team’s GRC Lites car for Bryan Herta Rallysport.

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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