Gabby Chaves

One in a series looking at the Firestone Indy Lights championship contenders

Of the 18 drivers who have started a Firestone Indy Lights race this year, no one has finished on podium more times than Gabby Chaves.

The 20-year-old, who holds dual U.S. and Colombia citizenship, has only missed finishing in the top three in only two of the 10 events. While his competitors gathered multiple wins amongst more inconsistent finishes, Chaves stayed under the radar and cruised into championship contention with numerous top-three results and a victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“I am out to win every race. This season has played out to be very consistent more from coincidence than it being my ‘style,’ ” Chaves said. “Having led in St. Pete, losing at the last 20 meters in Indy and fighting for the win in Pocono … If you take into account what ‘could have been,’ then it certainly would not be an under the radar season so far.”

Four points out of the championship lead and that much closer to a scholarship prize to move to the IZOD IndyCar Series is a far cry from where Chaves’ career began. Though born into a family of racers through his mother, uncle and grandfather, Chaves initially displayed his athleticism in tennis and was once ranked in the United States Tennis Association’s Top Ten players of his age group.

Soon Chaves was ranked among the elite in a different sport – at age 10 he began a karting career as he began to gravitate toward racing. He spent time in Europe racing in the Formula BMW Championship and GP3 before returning to the U.S. to join the Pro Mazda Championship in 2012. He captured two wins en route to finishing second in the championship behind now teammate Jack Hawksworth.

Despite his consistent results in his rookie season of Firestone Indy Lights, Chaves is the only championship contender to have not led the standings at any point. Unfazed, Chaves only cares if he’s leading in points at the end of the season.

“Leading the points before the championship ends is more of an ego boost,” he said. “Obviously, I wouldn't mind leading right now, but what matters to me is being the one to lead the points when the checkered falls at Fontana.”

The top four drivers in the series are separated by 11 points, and Chaves currently sits in the middle in third. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Sage Karam leads by two points over Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz.

Next up for Chaves is a new track on the schedule this year at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Oct. 5. The finale race will take place at Auto Club Speedway Oct. 19 at the INDYCAR World Championships.

“I am confident that we will be very fast at Houston and Fontana,” Chaves said. “It's impossible to say what will happen but I know that I can win both races with solid weekends.”