Gabby Chaves

Checkered flags don’t make championships.

Gabby Chaves earned four victories on the way to earning the 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship. It was his consistency – 11 podium finishes, including two second-place finishes in the season’s final races at Sonoma Raceway – that paved the way to the title and $750,000 scholarship used to move up to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“It separates the great from the greatest and the good from the best,” said Chaves, who will look to string together consistently high results in his rookie season with Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian.

“Now you’re not racing against three or four other champions but your racing against 22 guys that have won championships.”

He credits the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system for preparing him for the fierce competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series -- “the summit” as he called it. He was the Indy Lights championship runner-up in 2013 and also placed second in the 2012 Pro Mazda standings.

“I’ve been able to always think a little bit more clearly when I’m in the car than maybe other drivers are able to do. And that just leads to some better decisions on track, which eventually lead to more consistent results,” he said. 

Chaves’ confidence in making the jump to Verizon IndyCar Series is due in part to the familiarity with the racetracks. Based on his three seasons in the Mazda Road to Indy, Chaves referenced The Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway as challenging racetracks.

However, he added, “I really think every race is going to be a challenge on its own.”

Also challenging will be working for the first time with the Honda aerodynamic bodywork kits, push to pass, chassis adjustments a driver can make from the cockpit, and pit stops. Technology, such as the customized steering wheel and telemetry built into the car also is relatively new to the driver and evolving.

“Where we are now, 10 years from now the generation behind us is going to have a little bit more potential than we do,” he said. “And I believe that the generation right now, the one I’m in, has a little bit more potential than the one ahead of us. It’s just a trend. Every time the cars get faster, the drivers get faster.”