INDIANAPOLIS – This isn’t a shot at Andretti Autosport so don’t take it this way, but for the second time in the last three IndyCar Series offseasons, Gabby Chaves lost a ride and Andretti was part of the reason.
In the 2015 season, Chaves drove for Bryan Herta Autosport. He had two top 10 finishes and was 15th in the final standings. The team had every intention on bringing him back for 2016 but funding unfortunately fell through in late winter. That left BHA scrambling to be able to put a car on the grid in a few short months in St. Pete.
Herta, called up friend Michael Andretti and worked out a deal to merge forces. BHA would fall under the Andretti Autosport banner in a partnership deal. Instead of bringing Chaves back, Andretti sought a bigger fish – Alexander Rossi.
Boy did that ever work out.
Rossi’s won five times, scored four poles, 12 podiums, 17 top fives and 30 top 10’s in only 50 starts. He finished second in the final standings this past year after having career highs in every statistical category. He won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, the 2018 Long Beach Grand Prix and the 2017 race in Watkins Glen. It was a move that panned out well.
Granted, for 2018, Rossi moved over to the AA banner and Marco Andretti drove for BHA, it was a move that worked out very well for all parties.
Fast forward to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Chaves, once again lost his ride due to a two former Andretti drivers and a possible Andretti merger.
Chaves, signed on to drive with Harding Racing on a three race deal for 2017. He’d finish in the top 10 in two of those three opportunities that year for the start up organization. The team had him back for 2018 but the season was more of a struggle. Rightfully so though, as there was a brand new car, they had no teammate and were in the first year as being a full time entrant. The team was patient, but said that they knew they needed a second car to help speed this learning process along. In July, the decided to replace Chaves and give other drivers a chance to show what they’ve got. They were actively pursuing a second driver to pair with Chaves for 2019.
The team said all along then that Chaves was under contract for 2019 and this was only an exploratory role to see who to pair with him.
But, the offers came in that were too good to refuse. Chaves, is still under contract for next year still but plans for using him are unknown.
Harding could potentially pair with Andretti in the future and get their resources while also getting funding from Steinbrenner Racing and the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship. They get two promising drivers in Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward who had combined to win 13 of the 17 races in Indy Lights competition this past year. Both also being teenagers with their best years ahead of them.
Unfortunately, it cost Chaves a ride again.