Gabby Chaves didn't win either of the two BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda races at Mosport International Raceway. The 14 year old Colombian had been three-for-three in his Skip Barber National starts – he had missed round two due to prior commitments, a race won by Fabio Orsolon – but at Mosport, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly had the measure of Chaves. Nevertheless, Chaves had as good a chance to win both races as any of the other major players; the four aforementioned, plus Connor De Phillippi.
Saturday's race one saw polesitter Chaves take the lead at the start yet before half a lap was done, we saw a three-car breakaway: Chaves, Newgarden and De Phillippi. Heading up the long back straight, Chaves virtually lane-tossed his car to break the draft, but all that did was let Newgarden and De Phillippi fly by him. Now Newgarden led and guess what he did next time up the back straight? Yep, tried to ''break'' the draft with his own version of emergency lane change. So of course that gave De Phillippi the lead – and he actually held the lead for two consecutive laps.
But the next six laps saw a different leader each time, a terrific display of nose to tail and side by side racing. Chaves led, then Newgy, then De Phillippi, then Newgy, then De Phillippi… you get the picture. It was clearly going to come down to the last lap, the usual scenario for a Skip Barber National race De Phillippi led Newgarden and Chaves out of Five, the tight uphill-downhill, double-apex righthander leading onto the back straight. Newgarden and Chaves drafted past De Phillippi, which meant one last chance for Chaves. He made his move to pass Newgarden for the win by trying to dive underneath in 10, the righthander onto the front straight. Not only did it not work (and he bent his left-front wing in the attempt), but the move opened the door for De Phillippi to get past Chaves for second place. (Following some dreadful results in the championship's first four races, De Phillippi, this year's Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out winner, finally gets a result more reflective of his talent.)
''I was not going to let that kid win again,'' Newgarden, an old man of 17, earnestly said after the race, referencing Chaves. ''It's my turn to win some races!'' It was, in fact, a very smart, well-executed win by Newgarden, his first this year; he won two races last year, finishing sixth in the championship.
Finishing fourth, as part of an equally ferocious duking and dicing pack of nine, was Orsolon, holding off Hayden Duerson, Stevan McAleer, points leader Felipe Polehtto, Mark Bumgarner, Daly, Chris Holmes, Adam Tran and Nick Tonkin, the group of them easily covered with grandma's quilt as they crossed the finish line.
Race two had a tough act to follow, but the kids came through again, even marred as it was by a full course yellow midway through the race (Holmes and Tyler Schaal tangled wheels just before start/finish, with innocent Bumgarner collecting Schaal and hence a four-lap FCY was needed to clean up). Up to that point, instead of a three-pack as in race one, it was a four-pack of polesitter Newgy, De Phillippi, Daly and Chaves taking turns at the front. When the music paused on lap seven to take care of the crash, Daly was the guy up front, Chaves second, Newgarden third, followed by De Phillippi, Orsolon, Polehtto and Duerson, with McAleer and Tonkin rounding out the top 10.
With time running out, the call was for a green-white-checker finish, so we were surely in store for a two-lap, whiz-bang affair. Daly led the charge through One on the re-start, but leave it to Gabby to go big and brave in Turn Two, an inside move that he made work. Shockingly, there was no lead change up the back straight, so the last lap begins with Chaves inches in front of Daly, Newgarden, De Phillippi and Orsolon. By the time they came around to T9 for the last time, Polehtto had made it a six-pack.
Now, it's just a short chute from lefthand Nine to righthand Ten, but it was seen as enough by Newgarden to bust a move. And a bust it turned out to be... He was able to get inside and alongside Chaves -- albeit with all four wheels in pit-in. Chaves had full possession of the line and though Newgarden really tried to hold things together, his super-inside line forced him up into Chaves. Chaves ended up sideways and Newgy wound up slow; Daly shot past, fist in the air as the win was his, Orsolon took second and De Phillippi third. Chaves skillfully gathered it up, foot still in it, and came across fourth. McAleer, Newgy, Polehtto and Duerson were next, with Tonkin and Lee Carpentier rounding out the top 10.
So what does this do to the championship standings? Believe it or not, the order from first-to-seventh did not change. But the gaps in points have shrunk to nothing. Where Polehtto led by 15 points over Newgarden coming in, now it's 2. Compare Newgy's 167 to Chaves's 164, Orsolon's 163 and Daly's 152. Not to mention Duerson and McAleer within whispering distance at 138 and 132, respectively. And De Phillippi's stellar weekend sees him go from a Nowheresville 58 points and outside the top 15 to eighth in the standings, with 110.
Up next, a track with a bit more fiddly bits than fast, sweeping Mosport: Barber Motorsports Park, July 18-20, running with Grand-Am's Daytona Prototypes. Now we're going to find out who the technical drivers are…
Results, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
June 14, 2008, round 5 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by MazdaMosport International Raceway, 10-turn, 2.46-mile road course(Starting position in parentheses)
1. (2) Josef Newgarden, Henderson, Tenn., 15 laps, 94.620 average mph2. (4) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif., 15 laps3. (1) Gabby Chaves, Colombia, 154. (12) Fabio Orsolon, Brazil, 155. (9) Hayden Duerson, St. Petersburg, Fla., 156. (10) Steven McAleer, Scotland, 157. (5) Felipe Polehtto, Brazil, 158. (7) Mark Bumgarner, Philippines, 159. (6) Conor Daly, Noblesville, Ind., 1510. (3) Chris Holmes, England, 1511. (8) Adam Tran, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, 1512. (11) Nick Tonkin, Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, 1513. (13) Tyler Schaal, Sioux Falls, S.D., 1514. (16) Victor Pedrosa, Brazil, 1515. (14) Lee Carpentier, New Canaan, Conn., 1516. 1M (18) Peter Tucker, Dallas, Texas, 1517. 2M (19) Dom Bastien, West Palm Beach, Fla., 1518. (15) Marcio Pasaneli, Brazil, 15
Race length: 15 laps of 2.46-mile road course for 36.9 milesTime of race: 23 minutes, 23.360 secondsConditions: Sunny and hotMargin of victory: 0.402 secondsLap leaders: Newgarden 1; De Phillippi 2; Newgarden 3 - 4; Chaves 5; Newgarden 6; De Phillippi 7; Newgarden 8; De Phillippi 9; Newgarden 10 - 11; De Phillippi 12 - 14; Newgarden 15Cautions: NoneFastest qualifier: Chaves, 1:31.520 / 96.726 mphFastest race lap: Newgarden, 1:32.149 / 96.066 mph, lap 6
June 15, 2008, round 6 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by MazdaMosport International Raceway, 10-turn, 2.46-mile road course(Starting position in parentheses)
1. (4) Conor Daly, Noblesville, Ind., 12 laps, 71.761 average mph2. (5) Fabio Orsolon, Brazil, 12 laps3. (2) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif., 124. (6) Gabby Chaves, Colombia, 125. (9) Steven McAleer, Scotland, 126. (1) Josef Newgarden, Henderson, Tenn., 127. (3) Felipe Polehtto, Brazil, 128. (7) Hayden Duerson, St. Petersburg, Fla., 129. (13) Nick Tonkin, Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, 1210. (11) Lee Carpentier, New Canaan, Conn., 1211. (18) Victor Pedrosa, Brazil, 1212. (15) Marcio Pasaneli, Brazil, 1213. (10) Chris Holmes, England, 1214. 1M (16) Peter Tucker, Dallas, Texas, 1215. 2M (17) Dom Bastien, West Palm Beach, Fla., 1216. (14) Tyler Schaal, Sioux Falls, S.D., 5 (accident)17. (12) Mark Bumgarner, Philippines, 5 (accident)18. (8) Adam Tran, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, 3 (accident)
Race length: 12 laps of 2.46-mile road course for 29.5 milesTime of race: 24 minutes, 40.322 secondsConditions: Sunny and hotMargin of victory: 0.580 secondsLap leaders: Newgarden 1 - 2; De Phillippi 3; Newgarden 4; Chaves 5; Daly 6 - 10; Chaves 11; Daly 12Cautions: One, for laps 7 - 10Fastest qualifier: Newgarden, 1:30.637 / 97.669 mph (R)Fastest race lap: Duerson, 1:31.708 / 96.528 mph, lap 3
2008 Skip Barber National points standings after 6 of 14 rounds, top 15 drivers:1. Felipe Polehtto, 1692. Josef Newgarden, 1673. Gabby Chaves, 1644. Fabio Orsolon, 1635. Conor Daly, 1526. Hayden Duerson 1387. Stevan McAleer, 1328. Connor De Phillippi, 1109. Nick Tonkin, 10310. Mark Bumgarner, 10111. Chris Holmes, 9912. Tyler Schaal, 9813. Lee Carpentier, 9514. Marcio Pasaneli, 9515. Dom Bastien, 84