2.28.14 (via RACER.com) – The rivalry that is developing between Matthew Brabham and Gabby Chaves continued to gain momentum when the Cooper Tires Winterfest Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series test concluded with two more days of testing at Barber Motorsports Park. As was the case last Friday and Saturday at NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana, the two protagonists were rarely separated by more than a few tenths of a second during four sessions yesterday and today on the scenic and challenging 2.3-mile road course. On this occasion it was Brabham who emerged with the fastest time for Andretti Autosport.
Brabham, who is seeking to become the first driver ever to win all three steps on the Mazda Road to Indy in consecutive seasons after claiming the 2012 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship and last year's Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires title, posted a best of 1:15.160 in bitterly cold conditions this afternoon.
"I'm coming out of this test a lot more confident than I was going in, that's for sure. I think we proved that we definitely have the pace to run up front. We were in the top two, fighting for the first few positions time-wise, in every single session, so I'm really, really confident and very happy with how the team's working. They're doing an awesome job. I can't thank the guys enough and I'm really looking forward to the first race in St. Petersburg. It's going to be interesting to see where everybody ends up when testing finishes and we get to the first race, but so far so good for us."
Chaves, who paced this morning's session for Belardi Auto Racing, ended up second overall with a time of 1:15.461 set this afternoon.
Brazilian Luiz Razia completed the test third fastest for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at 1:15.522. The veteran of GP2 in Europe headed Andretti Autosport's Zach Veach (1:15.728), from Stockdale, Ohio, who was feeling much better after being hit by a nasty throat infection last weekend, and Englishman Jack Harvey in a second Schmidt Peterson car on 1:15.806.