Chaves a whisker away from top-10 after competitive, roller-coaster race in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE – One of the under-the-radar stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series season to this point has been rookie Gabby Chaves with Bryan Herta Autosport.

Chaves had arguably one of his best races this year on Sunday in the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers, even though the simple stat line of starting 12th, finishing 11th doesn’t scream at you.

But Chaves went from 12th to sixth on the first lap in the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda, then steadily fell back, but enjoyed a first half dice with past series champions and Milwaukee winners Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power at various points of the first 100-plus laps.

A video of the start is below:

Chaves’ roller-coaster ride continued and he got as high as fifth in the second half of the race. The final caution flag negated several drivers’ fuel concerns, and Chaves lost a fair bit of track position.

All told though, 11th followed a ninth in Detroit race two and 10th in Texas as his best finish of his freshman season.

“I probably experienced so many things in that race,” Chaves told MotorSportsTalk post-race. “I experienced probably the best start I’ve had, I went 12th to sixth in the first corner. Then I experienced one of the scariest moments going from sixth to like 12th in the next corner, trying to push myself!

“I had a lot of moments out there. I fought hard to make positions, keep my positions. We got a little bit unlucky there with the [last] caution. We were good on fuel. Four weren’t and got lucky. We could have had a top-six, top-seven. We’ll take this and move forward.”

Chaves, who raced at the track twice in Indy Lights, said the IndyCar style of racing at the venerable Milwaukee Mile oval wasn’t too different.

“It was very similar but harder, when you experience the same characteristics behind other cars,” Chaves explained. “Tire degradation is the same feeling. It’s way harder. When you’re behind another car in Indy Lights, you can manage it. It was so rough out there. It was hard to get within three or four car lengths and not feel the suspension is broke. But I enjoyed it. The team pushed itself.”

For fun this weekend and to try to break a recent string of tough luck, several BHA team members – including their eponymous team owner Bryan Herta himself – sported mustaches or other facial hair at the track.

Chaves, only 22 and unable to grow much himself, stuck a joke mustache on his face during the weekend to join in the festivities.

The facial hair was the comedic high point of a fun, and competitive, weekend for one of IndyCar’s two full-season single-car teams.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.