Gabby Chaves

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – “Experience is what makes the big difference,” says 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Gabby Chaves.

He’s specifically citing the endurance races in which he’s co-driven the No. 0 DeltaWing car, but the cross-reference to open-wheel racing is apparent. The 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona marked the fifth sports car endurance race for the 21-year-old Miami resident.

Chaves, who has tested with two Verizon IndyCar Series teams, is seeking to pair the growing encyclopedia of race craft with speed on the track for the 2015 season that kicks off March 8 with the Brasilia Indy 300 in Brazil.

“Confidence-wise, I keep building on it and I just feel more and more comfortable,” says Chaves, who placed first and second in his two Indy Lights seasons. “You don’t think it’s much, but having four endurance races under my belt makes a huge difference to me where I can start the 24 hours of Daytona and really know what I have to do instead of trying to figure it along the way.

“You learn, compared to sprint racing where you’re out there 110 percent every lap. Sometimes you have to back off a little bit, take care of yourself, take care of the car, and manage the traffic when you’re out there for two to three hours at a time in harsh conditions, especially in a closed cockpit car where temperatures get really high. It’s more than raw speed that you have to put down into your performance.”

Like an endurance race, waiting for the support pieces to come together to announce a Verizon IndyCar Series ride also has taught Chaves a few lessons about patience.

“We have programs in place that are just kind of waiting on a few things to be checked off the list so we can proceed,” says Chaves, who was honored last weekend for his series title at the FIA Americas Award gala in Panama. “We’ve had two successful tests and the most recent one with Bryan Herta we tested along four Ganassi (cars) and two Schmidt cars and we were quickest on the track. The potential is there. We just need the right things to get the opportunity to make it happen.”