News broke earlier in June that Mustang Sampling Racing's Joao Barbosa would miss the IMSA races at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park due to an injury sustained while training. The veteran Portuguese driver, who has taken the overall victory at Watkins Glen two years running, is expected to return for the August 3-5 race weekend at Road America. In the meantime, IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves will fill in for Barbosa at the upcoming North American Endurance Cup round in Upstate NY, competing alongside Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi.
Chaves, a former sportscar racer in his own right before switching to open-wheel action, last drove at the Six Hours of the Glen in 2016 as part of Panoz' DeltaWing efforts. He will return to the famed circuit on July 1 in the No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao (Barbosa) having his injury,” said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully, I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
As Chaves mentioned, the Mustang Sampling squad is currently tied with fellow Team Action Express crew Whelen Engineering in the overall championship standings. The No. 5 Cadillac drew first blood at January's Rolex 24 and won again at Long Beach, putting it in the title hunt early on.
“I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there,” continued Chaves. “I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
The Colombian-born professional currently drives a full-time IndyCar schedule with Harding Racing. He is a former Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and is a product of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder.