Newgarden & Daly Win at Mosport
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.
Race 1: Different laps, different leaders. This is Newgarden, ahead of De Phillippi and Chaves.
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 right-hander 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 right-hander 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.
So let's recap… perfect start, side by side racing the entire race, 11 official lead changes, no yellows, the first three drivers finishing within .539 of a second, the next nine inside of 2.5 seconds, a new winner, another driver's first podium… yep, it was almost a snore.
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 left-hand Nine to right-hand 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.