After missing out on a top three finish in St. Petersburg while his two teammates celebrated a win and a podium, Gabby Chaves was not to be denied at Barber Motorsports Park.
The 19-year-old from Bogota, Colombia, marched his No. 7 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian car to a third place finish on the permanent road course, and is setting his sights higher entering Long Beach.
"The podium finish in Barber was much needed after a disappointing finish in St. Pete," Chaves said. "It gets us back on track and begins to build our momentum."
Chaves finished on podium in 10 of the 17 Pro Mazda Championship rounds in 2012 and never once finished outside of the top 10. To carry that momentum into the next level of competition in Firestone Indy Lights and not finish the first race was a frustrating start to the season, but the rebound at Barber has him sitting solidly in fifth in the race to the championship.
Chaves will join a talented field of ten for the Long Beach 100 on Sunday, April 21, hoping the trouble he encountered in St. Petersburg is ancient history.
ENTRY LIST | WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Each of the five rookies on the entry list will be racing at the 1.968 mile street circuit for the first time. Veteran Peter Dempsey did not race at the event last year, and only completed nine laps in 2011 after contact in an early incident. For Chaves, the benefits of a team that has won multiple times over the series' history at the track is paying off in pre-race preparations.
"Thanks to the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports guys, I have some resources I can use to make the process of learning new tracks quicker," Chaves said. "The objective is still to stand on the top step of the podium at the end of the race weekend.
"I've heard Long Beach is a great street venue and I'm really looking forward to having a winning car there."
The Long Beach 100 begins at 1:15 p.m. (ET), Sunday, April 21. Live timing and radio broadcast will be available at racecontrol.indycar.com. The race will air same-day on NBC Sports Network at 3 p.m. (ET), immediately before the IZOD IndyCar Series race broadcast.