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: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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