When the green light illuminated the path to the checkered flag for 17 Star Mazda drivers sitting on the starting grid at Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta, Gabby Chaves carefully, but precisely, released the clutch of the No. 19 JDC MotorSports car and led the field to Turn 1.
Starting from pole position, when Chaves’ tires gripped the Georgia pavement, he knew second-place in the championship was his.
Still, he wasn’t satisfied.
“I knew that as soon as the race started I had clinched second in the championship,” explained Chaves in a Series’ release, “but that actually freed me to take an all-or-nothing attitude toward the race; I was going to win it or spin it!”
With improved focus and calmed nerves, Chaves hit his marks and worked his way to the checkered flag, ultimately winning the 38-lap race by 5.383 seconds. Sage Karam, who finished runner-up in the race, didn’t make it easy, however, as the Andretti Autosport driver hounded Chaves throughout the event glued to the No. 19’s rear wing.
A spin by Karam on the final lap gave Chaves the breathing room he needed to win his second-consecutive Star Mazda race. Karam would recover to finish second and claim third in the overall championship. Connor De Phillippi was third in Friday’s race and ultimately tied Karam in the championship standings with 325 points. Karam, however, earned the spot with three wins. De Phillippi concluded the season with two.
Karam would later describe the race with Chaves as “Awesome.”
Diego Ferreira and Bruno Palli finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Petri Suvanto (who finished fifth in the championship), Gustavo Menezes, Zach Veach, Juan Piedrahia, and Zack Meyer completed the top-10 in the season finale.