LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Gabby Chaves jumped to the top of the time sheet on his final lap of qualifications to earn his first Firestone Indy Lights Sunoco Pole Award.
Chaves, driving the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car, recorded a lap of 1 minute, 13.3306 seconds on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course for the Mid-Ohio 100 on Aug. 4 to pip Peter Dempsey, who also was aiming for his first pole.
Click it: Mid-Ohio 100 qualifying results
Chaves' previous best start in his first season in the series was third in the past two events -- at Pocono and Toronto.
“I knew I had the car from the first lap," who has three runner-up and three other podium finishes this season. "And we struggled in the practice, but we just kept our heads down and focused. Really, when my engineer told me ‘One lap to go, this is it,’ I put everything I had down on the table.
"We’ve yet to get on the front row for qualifying, so this is the first. For it to be a pole position and to get the first place on the starting grid for tomorrow, hopefully we’ll go for our first victory.”
Dempsey had moved to P1 with 11:10 left in the 45-minute session with a lap of 1:13.6942, and improved to 1:13.6478 with three minutes left in the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car. Chaves was fourth at that marker (.2473 of a second back). It's still the first front-row start for Dempsey, who also dropped his time to 1:13.4633, on his final lap, this season (fourth overall in three Firestone Indy Lights seasons covering 25 races).
“We had a tough weekend with gearbox trouble. We had two practices, and the first practice was damp this morning so we didn’t get much track time,” said Dempsey, the Firestone Freedom 100 winner. “We knew from the test we’d have a fast car here and we knew Gabby was going to be fast, too. He just nipped me there at the end, so congratulations to him on the pole.”
Jack Hawksworth (1:13.6700) and Carlos Munoz (1:13.6748) will share Row 2 for the 40-lap race.
Sage Karam, eight points behind Munoz in the championship chase entering the race, made contact with the Turn 1 barrier in the No. 8 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car six minutes into the session. He returned for the final six minutes and improved two positions to ninth.