By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
PORTLAND, Oregon — In a less than ideal 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Gabby Chaves managed to give Harding Racing his best finish of the year with a 13th place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.
After starting 21st, Chaves found himself in 11th place following the first lap mayhem involving James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal, Ed Jones, Scott Dixon, Zach Veach and Marco Andretti.
The 2014 Indy Lights champion ran in the top 10 in the early third of the race before his first pit stop on Lap 28 but while trying to get close to the top 10 on the last restart of the race Chaves was penalized for an aggressive defending maneuver and had to yield position to Carlos Munoz. Chaves would not pass another car during the rest of the race.
“We had decent pace on the red [sidewall tires],” Chaves told Motorsports Tribune. “[We] struggled quite a bit on the blacks and I think we lost some ground when we went to the blacks, lost a bit of track position there.
“On the last restart we were looking good, got a good run I think trying to pass for 11th around [Tony] Kanaan and got run off into the grass trying to defend my position after that.”
Chaves has had to race this season with dampers that reportedly were a few seasons old but the team has had to work hard to figure out the setups on the car and progress ahead of the offseason.
“The car’s been progressing,” said Chaves. “This is one of the more competitive road course weekends we’ve had so it’s a good job for the guys to be able to keep finding some pace and it’s sad when you look at all the races we’ve had and 13th is the best.
“Especially when we had a fifth place in our second start last year, it just shows how competitive the field is and the disadvantage that a one car team can have so we’ve just got to keep working at it.
“A lot of it has been how we’ve approached the engineering and the setup side of it but as far as any technological advances for the car, we won’t see that until the offseason or the winter so hopefully we can work on that throughout the winter.”