SONOMA, Calif. – Gabby Chaves concluded his impressive rookie season in the Verizon IndyCar Series with another quietly dependable, consistent result of 14th in the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda for Bryan Herta Autosport in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale.
On top of that, Chaves clinched the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year honors for the 2015 season.
Chaves had a 50-point-lead on Sage Karam and 70-point-lead on Stefano Coletti after Pocono last week so the honor wasn’t really in doubt, but just needed to be solidified on Sunday.
As ever the qualifying was just a fraction off on Saturday – Chaves qualified 21st – but moved forward during the race to bank his ninth top-15 finish in 16 races.
But as Chaves described it, the day was far from ordinary.
“It was a very eventful race for us. We barely made it to the start. Actually we didn’t even make the starting grid, so we started about half a lap back,” Chaves explained post-race. “We had a battery problem so that was unfortunate.
“We think we had the right strategy and had the right pace, but once we started being it was just like we didn’t really know where to go and it was hard to get rhythm behind other cars that we were much faster than. Twice we got caught out by a yellow flag, right as we were pitting and had to bail out from pitting. We obviously lost position trying to do that and screwed up our strategy. It was just a rough day all around, but I think our pace is good and we have to work on a few things.”
He also ends 15th in the points, which as a rookie on a single-car team is a very good result. Coletti, the next highest rookie in the championship, ended 19th in the standings, 78 points back.
“I am happy with the way our Bryan Herta Autosport team worked out this year and we couldn’t do it without our sponsors, Bowers & Wilkins, Castrol Edge, Deltro Electric, Alarm.com, and of course having Honda in our car. It was a fun season and I look forward to what 2016 has to bring,” Chaves said.
Chaves is the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar season rookie-of-the-year honors in the same season since Marco Andretti nearly a decade ago, in 2006.
Note that Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay have also won both of late, but not in the same season.
Here’s a breakdown of the 10 most recent rookies-of-the-year:
|2015||Gabby Chaves||Gabby Chaves|
|2014||Carlos Munoz||Kurt Busch|
|2013||Tristan Vautier||Carlos Munoz|
|2012||Simon Pagenaud||Rubens Barrichello|
|2011||James Hinchcliffe||JR Hildebrand|
|2010||Alex Lloyd||Simona de Silvestro|
|2009||Raphael Matos||Alex Tagliani|
|2008||Hideki Mutoh||Ryan Hunter-Reay|
|2007||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Phil Giebler|
|2006||Marco Andretti||Marco Andretti|