This time, Gabby Chaves’ nose was just ahead of the competition in the Freedom100.
The 20-year-old Miami resident overtook Matthew Brabham in the final few yards on the frontstretch of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval to record the victory by .0050 of a second in the 40-lap Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race.
Last May, Chaves was pipped at the Yard of Bricks by Peter Dempsey by .0026 of a second in the closest finish of an auto race in the Speedway’s illustrious history.
“I was just yelling so loud on that victory lap,” said Chaves, who qualified fifth. “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).”
Click it: Freedom 100 results
A few notes about Belardi Auto Racing and this race: Chaves was driving the same No. 5 car that Dempsey drove to victory in 2013. Stefan Wilson was the spotter for Chaves, just as he was for Dempsey. It was the third win of the season for the driver/team.
“We’ve put so much into it; I’m so excited for Gabby and the whole team,” team owner Brian Belardi said.
The top five finishers were blanketing by .5510 of a second.
Chaves was .1239 of a second behind Brabham in third place on the white flag lap, with Zach Veach .0681 of a second back in second. Chaves overtook Zeach’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport car in Turn 3 to set up the final stretch.
“I just got a good run off of Turn 4 to make the pass,” said Chaves, who was the series championship runner-up in 2013.
Brabham, who earned his first series victory May 9 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, led four times for a field-high 28 laps.
“When I saw (Chaves and Veach) battling on the last couple of laps I thought I could just stay ahead and get the win, and coming off that last corner I pretty much thought I had it,” said Brabham, driving the No. 83 entry for Andretti Autosport. “But Chaves just came roaring around the outside. It’s disappointing to be so close and lose the race, but I’m happy I was up front and had a shot to win the race.”
Brabham was carrying a sticker on the car in tribute to his grandfather, Sir Jack Brabham, who died May 19. He was 88. The state funeral for the three-time Formula One World Champion will be held June 11 in Australia. He competed four times in the Indianapolis 500 with a best finish of ninth in 1961.
Sunoco Pole Award winner Luiz Razia of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian finished fourth and teammate Jack Harvey was fifth.
There was one caution for a single-car incident involving Chase Austin in Turn 1 on Lap 15. Austin suffered a fractured left wrist, according to INDYCAR medical director Dr. Michael Olinger. Chaves moved into the championship lead by one point over Veach.