Chaves settling into Coyne, appreciating multi-car atmosphere

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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s not that Gabby Chaves wasn’t appreciative of his situation with Bryan Herta Autosport last year – far from it.

The talented 22-year-old Colombian American was just a rookie on a single-car team and so that presents its own set of challenges.

But Chaves rose to them pretty much all year, scoring both the Indianapolis 500 and Verizon IndyCar Series full-season rookie-of-the-year honors.

Now back in the series after missing the first four races, he’s in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing and in a completely different environment – part of a four-car team for the Indianapolis 500. His teammates are Conor Daly, Pippa Mann and Bryan Clauson.

“It’s the first time that I’ve worked with a multiple-car team during like an official event,” Chaves said Wednesday after ending fifth on the overall speed charts with a best speed of 226.889 mph.

“Definitely something that I’m learning about and that definitely you benefit from when you’ve got a lot of data to share, a lot of ideas and heads working to make you go faster.”

Chaves also admitted the learning process at Indy continues with every run. He’s a past track winner having captured the 2014 Freedom 100 in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires for Belardi Auto Racing, having just come up short a year earlier in the dramatic four-wide finish where Belardi’s then-driver Peter Dempsey edged him at the line.

“I think every time you come to this place, it never gets easier, you’re just a little more used to it,” he said.

Chaves was unlucky to finish 17th in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, his first start with Coyne, because he could have been similar or better than teammate Daly was on a strategy play.

He missed staying on the lead lap by roughly four seconds before a full-course caution came out. Had he stayed on the lead lap, he’d have likely emerged behind Daly and then-leader Helio Castroneves once the pit stop sequence cycled through, and positioned himself for a potential podium, top-five or top-10 finish. Castroneves ultimately ended second, Daly a season-best sixth.

“It was the first race back for me,” Chaves said. “We had the potential just like our teammate did. We were on the same strategy as Conor (Daly), we just got caught by a safety car at the wrong time. A few seconds difference and we would have been right there as well. We could’ve had a double team run for the top six. We just got unlucky with the safety car.

“I think I took a step forward as well, with this being my first race back and figuring everything out. It felt good in the car. We just have to keep working.”

While Chaves is only formally confirmed for the month of May, don’t be surprised to see him continue for further races in the No. 19 Honda as the season progresses.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III