Last season Gabby Chavez finished second in a four-wide finish at the line by .0026 seconds in the Freedom 100 Indy Lights Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but today the 20-year-old Chavez avenged that defeat by passing Matthew Brabham at the line to win by .0050 seconds this time around. The finish was the third closest in Indy Lights Series history.
The Freedom 100 was a part of Coors Light Carb Day at IMS on Friday getting ready for Sunday's 98th Indianapolis 500 and the seventh of 14 races this season for the Indy Lights Series. Chavez, who was driving the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car that beat him last season with Peter Dempsey in it, won his third race of the season.
“I was just yelling so loud on that victory lap,” said Chaves. “I’ve worked so hard to be where I am and to be one step closer to where I want to be is … I’m just speechless. It’s going great. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. The team deserves this (win).”
The 40-lap race started with Luiz Razia on the pole after he turned the quickest lap in qualifying on Thursday. The initial start was waved off because of some drivers in the back pulling out to pass too soon so the official start was on lap 2.
Matthew Bradham took the lead on lap 5 but Razia went back in front on lap 7. Then Brabham grabbed the lead again on lap 8. Zach Veach took his first lead of the race on lap 13 and then on lap 15 Brabham took the lead back.
In Turn 1 on lap 15 Chase Austin got loose and could not gather it back. His car hit the inside wall right where safety tires and the SAFER barrier met. His car was destroyed in the heavy impact. Austin was removed from the mangled car and taken to the infield care center and then transported to the hospital. Luckily his only injury was a fractured left wrist.
The race restarted on lap 24 and Gabby Chavez took his first lead of the race. Brabham then made a third to first pass to retake the lead on lap 28. Brabham then held the lead from there as he led a race-high 28 laps. With one lap to go Brabham led with Veach, Chaves, Jack Harvey, and Luiz Razia close behind and based on last year any of them could be the winner the next time around.
Chavez was able to pass Veach in Turn 3 and then off Turn 4 was right on the rear of Brabham. He stalked him then pulled to the outside just in time to nip the Andretti Autosport driver at the line by the width of the front wing.
Finishing third was Zach Veach with Luiz Razia fourth, and Jack Harvey fifth. Juan Pablo Garcia was sixth, Alex Baron seventh, Juan Piedrahita eighth, Scott Anderson ninth, Zach Meyer tenth, and Chase Austin 11th.
Gabby Chavez and Zach Veach are tied in the points after seven of 14 races but Chavez is scored the leader due to having three wins to Veach's two on the season. Razia is third, seven points back. Fourth in the points is Harvey who is 27 points back and Brabham is fifth, 32 points back. The next race isn't until July at Pocono Raceway.
Also on Carb Day there was the final one-hour practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series teams in preparation for Sunday's Indianapolis 500. Tony Kanaan of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team was the fastest with his teammate Scott Dixon second. Townsend Bell, driving for KV Racing Technology, was third. Helio Castroneves of Team Penske was fourth and rookie Mikhail Aleshin was fifth for Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports. Kurt Busch was 15th fastest as he got his first action since crashing earlier in the week.
The Indianapolis 500 can be seen with coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ABC.Tags: Carb Day, Chase Austin, Gabby Chavez, indianapolis 500, indianapolis motor speedway, IndyCar Series, Jack Harvey, Kurt Busch, Luiz Razia, Matthew Brabham, Motorsports, Scott Dixon, Zach Veach