MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series in the part-timer ranks. Next up is Sebastian Saavedra, who did better than anticipated in a handful of outings for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Sebastian Saavedra, Nos. 8 and 17 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
- 2014: 21st Place, Best Finish 9th, 1 Pole, 1 Top-10, 14 Laps Led, 17.2 Avg. Start, 16.9 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 10th, Best Start 8th, 12 Laps Led, 14.6 Avg. Start, 15.8 Avg. Finish
Saavedra seems to have more opportunities than most in IndyCar and in Gary Peterson, a father figure whose Automatic Fire Sprinklers support has been constant for the better part of four different seasons. The Saavedra/AFS partnership continued and moved onto Chip Ganassi Racing this year, which was a marriage of convenience – it kept the Leaders’ Circle-entered No. 8 Chevrolet he shared with Sage Karam on the grid for all 16 races and provided Saavedra his first real shot of a top-flight car.
He was pretty impressive all year given his limited opportunities, even if his results fully didn’t show it. The California book-ends were the best races, with a top-10 finish at Long Beach after zero preseason testing, and leading 12 laps on a different tire strategy en route to 13th at Sonoma. Making it into Q2 in three of four races was also very good to see, and spoke of a driver working well with his engineer and teammates.
Having been around for nearly 60 career starts over parts of six seasons, it’s fair to reference Denny Green’s infamous post-game speech after the Arizona Cardinals blew a 23-point lead to the Chicago Bears and say Saavedra “is who we thought he is.” But in the Colombian’s case, it means Saavedra’s a serviceable, nice, smarter than you realize driver with phenomenal spiked hair, who is a decent – if not superstar – shoe.