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Young Chaves Eager For Another 500-Mile Battle

The rookie from Colombia with the infectious smile can’t wait to get another crack at a 500-mile IndyCar race. 

Defending Indy Lights champion Gabby Chaves has defied most expectations for a young driver stepping up to the Verizon IndyCar Series, and has demonstrated incredible consistency and composure entering Auto Club Speedway, where he’ll race the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda.

Chaves, who was the fastest rookie qualifier and top rookie finisher at the Indy 500 in May, is coming off a top 10 at the 1.5-mile Texas oval and wants to build on his oval record this weekend around Fontana’s 2-mile superspeedway.

“The first thing I said after I got out of the car after Indy was that I wanted to go back out and do another 500 miles,” Chaves said. “I definitely feel like we left something on the table there and I know we can do better than 16th at the finish, so we’re fired up to show what we can do here.”

To give the Bowers & Wilkins-sponsored Honda a better chance at securing an impressive result, Chaves says the BHA team is focused on an improvement in one key area.

“Qualifying is something we’re working on a lot for Fontana because the farther up we are, the easier it will be to stay with the lead pack,” Chaves explained. “It’s a long race, so it’s not like qualifying will guarantee anything at the finish, but if we can get the speed out of the car we know is in there, it should translate to more speed in the race.”

High temperatures are expected to influence Saturday’s race in Southern California, but Chaves says he and the team are prepared for a scorcher in SoCal.

“I’ll stay hydrated and do a lot of cardio work, and that starts the week before the race—it’s a process you have to build up, and as far as the team and the car, we haven’t had any problems with overheating with the Honda engines, and we have a bunch of options with sidepod shutters and cooling, and screens in front of the radiator to keep them from getting clogged, so I feel like we’re prepared for anything that comes at us in the race.”

The odds favor IndyCar’s bigger teams at most rounds, but Chaves believes BHA can challenge the Penske and Ganassi drivers at ACS.

“We want to be one of if not the fastest Honda in qualifying, and that’s something I really feel we can do as a team,” he said. “And in the race, obviously you want to go out and win, but looking at our progression this year, coming home with a top 5 would be a really good deal for our team and our sponsors. I’m pretty excited for this race.” 

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