Gabby Chaves confirmed as 2015 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year

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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:

Year Season Indy 500
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

IndyCar’s Scott Dixon staying fit with new training regimen during layoff

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During a regular racing schedule, five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing would spend much of his time between races at PitFit in Indianapolis.

The highly advanced workout facility on the northwest side of Indianapolis is run by noted sports trainer Jim Leo. His clientele includes IndyCar Series drivers and other athletes in the area.

In addition to the array of workout machines, Leo’s facility also has advanced equipment to test a driver’s reaction time. These range from a board with lights that rapidly flash, and a driver has to hit the board to turn them off. There are other tests drivers do to keep their skills sharp and reaction time focused.

Times have changed, though.

Indiana is under a statewide lockdown with the exception of essential services only. Instead of going to PitFit, Dixon is working out at his home on the north side of Indianapolis.

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His reaction time is being tested by his wife, Emma, throwing a tennis ball at him, changing the direction with each toss.

“I’ve gone back to old school, like tennis balls and Emma can drop them or throw them,” Dixon told NBCSports.com. “As long as you keep up with basic cardio and lift weights and work on the neck muscles, that’s the harder part to get ready for.

“I had already stopped going into Pit Fit last week. We had not been doing that for a while. Haven’t left the house for 13 days, now. We went to the grocery store once. The rest of the stuff has been delivered.

“We’re locked down, man, trying to do our best for everyone else.”


Dixon’s home has an impressive array of workout equipment. That allows the 39-year-old racing legend to stay fit during this extended time off that won’t end until the last week of May at the earliest.

“I have most of the stuff I need at home,” Dixon explained. “Some of the reaction stuff, the D-2s and Synaptic machines plus some of the upper-body machines, are pretty unique machines. Those are the machines that Jim Leo has at PitFit.

“As far as cycling, running, general weights, skiers and rollers, I have that at home.”

It seems like a lifetime ago when the world was normal. That was before the dreaded novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic literally sent society underground and locked in while awaiting a solution to this fatal virus.

Photo by Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Before this unexpected shutdown, Dixon would go into PitFit to work on specialized equipment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He would do the rest of his physical workout at home.

“I started skipping that when we got home before the lockdown,” Dixon said. “Before the lockdown, Jim could have stayed open because he never has more than 10 people at once.

“Typically, he would have the drivers spaced out where Tony Kanaan and I would go in at 8 in the morning, and Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe would go in at 9:30, and then Zach Veach and Spencer Pigot and Charlie Kimball would go in around 11. There were only about five of us going in at once.”

Two weeks ago, Leo dropped off some equipment at Dixon’s house along with more instructions to focus on his workouts during the layoff.

Sacrifices are being made all throughout the world, including racing.

“You can’t be selfish,” Dixon said. “It sucks for the drivers, but it sucks a lot worse for a lot of other people. Luckily, the school the girls go to has e-learning. It’s school as usual on the computer from 8:30 to 3 and that has been seamless on that front.

“On a personal note, it’s nice to be home with the baby and bonding as well, and that is great. But all of us wish everything was back to normal as soon as possible.”

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Dixon is the father of three, including young daughters Poppy (10), Tilly (8) and infant son, Kit.

This is a time to keep his family safe.

“You hear mixed messages about who is more at risk,” Dixon said. “Obviously, older people with underlying conditions. We’re a fairly healthy family, but still it sounds like something can trigger a pretty bad situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry so we are limiting our contact as fast as possible. The quicker everybody locks down, the quicker we will get through the situation. If we stay home, we will see a decline and hopefully get back to normal pretty quickly.

“It’s a new thing for everybody.”


For now, Dixon works out at home, while the girls continue their classes on the computer. Emma spends time with her infant son, Kit, while taking care of the family.

These days of working out at home will be important because once racing is scheduled to return, tentatively set for May 30 at Detroit, it will be flat-out, racing nearly every weekend.

There won’t be time off inbetween races.

“No, but everybody is having plenty of rest right now,” Dixon quipped. “It’s not what anybody wants. We all keep hoping everybody remains safe and healthy. It’s a difficult time for a lot of people and we’ve been very lucky that we don’t know anybody that has had an issue so far. Hopefully, that remains the same.

“Everybody is ready to go. We were ready to go at St. Pete. This will be welcomed greatly.

“Nothing is normal these days. I think what IndyCar and IMS did was probably the best of the situations. You never want to move the dates of the 500, but you always want the people to be relaxed enough they are going to come to the race, too.

“The way they have done the schedule is pretty cool. It gives them enough wiggle room now with Detroit being the kickoff. What is also fun is the July 4 doubleheader weekend at Indianapolis and St. Pete finishing the season.”

Once life returns to normal, depending on what the new normal will look like, race drivers and athletes will once again be in an area they know.

The difficult part of this, however, is nobody knows when the COVID-19 outbreak will end.

“The hard part right now is there are so many unknowns,” Dixon said. “That is what people hate. They could wrap their hands around two weeks, but it could be another six weeks. People will go crazy.

“That is what we are going through right now. The unknown. Nobody knows what the next step is.”

That is why Dixon has a message for all race fans to take these orders seriously.

“Stay safe. Stay away from people. Lock down. Get this period done with,” Dixon said. “Once we do that, hopefully we can crack on like normal, and people can find fixes and therapies. As soon as everybody bunkers down, we will get through this sooner instead of later.

“Let’s get back to normal as quick as possible and get back to racing when we can.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500