By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
It is safe to say that Gabby Chaves’ first outing with Dale Coyne Racing racing can be labeled solid.
Chaves signed a deal at the last minute to race for Dale Coyne to replace Luca Filippi for the two rounds at Indianapolis. Despite not being in an IndyCar since the series’ test at Phoenix International Raceway in February, Chaves did not feel intimidated. He showed pace immediately during practice for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, as he nearly matched teammate Conor Daly.
“The two days I did in Phoenix with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports helped a lot,” he said. “That was kind of the break that I had after six months after Sonoma and now another three and a half months later. If that had been a full eight and a half months, it would have probably have been a lot more difficult to get back into that racing rhythm.”
Qualifying did not go as well for him as he qualified in 23rd place but ran a clean, mistake free race and managed to bring the car home in one piece in 17th.
Once the focus switched to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Chaves began to shine and find pace.”
“The first time we were out here with the team and we were flat out on lap two, and we were really quick right away and really competitive.”
He was clocked among the front runners and used a tow to set the fastest lap of the day on Thursday. Qualifying proved to be a struggle for the entire Dale Coyne Racing crew as the team discovered a setup mistake on Pippa Mann’s car after she crashed on her first qualifying attempt. The team hastily made changes to the remaining cars before qualifying, but Chaves still managed to qualify in 21st place, the quickest of the bunch.
While naturally is a high amount of pressure on Chaves as he tries to fight his way back into IndyCar full time, the young Columian-American stays motivated by just reminding himself of the opportunity that he has in front of him.
“I think a little bit of pressure is good, it keeps you on your toes and keeps you trying to push yourself. The way I like to take that pressure off is by reminding myself that 15 days ago I didn’t have a ride. Now I do and I just have to remind myself of the opportunity that I have and just enjoy it and savor every lap out there.”
Chaves’ opportunity with Coyne has also given him the opportunity to work with teammates (Conor Daly, Bryan Clauson and Pippa Mann) for the first time, and he feels that it has payed dividends throughout the entire month.
“You are a lot more efficient on setup changes,” he said. “It helps a lot to expedite things and when you have three other drivers to talk to about how the car feels and bounce ideas and what we can do to improve it.”
Image Credit: Eric McCombs/IndyCar