Harding Racing is taking a different direction for the remaining six races of 2018 and it begins this weekend with Conor Daly replacing Gabby Chaves at Toronto.
“We’re trying to see where we’re at for the remainder of 2018 and see what we can do for 2019 because it’s our goal to be a two-car team next year,” said Harding boss Brian Barnhart. “So Mike [Harding] wants to do some driver evaluations with some guys in this year’s Indianapolis 500 and some of the talented kids in Lights.
“It’s very difficult to have a one-car team with only one engineer and this isn’t an indictment of Gabby.”
Asked how the 25-year-old Colombian-American took the news, Barnhart replied: “It was not an easy conversation and he was understandably pissed. But I expect him to be back on the track again in 2018. And he’s got a contract with us to be our driver in 2019.”
Chaves naturally took the news hard, but was a team player in a call from RACER on Tuesday afternoon.
“This was not an overnight decision and obviously I wish I was in the car the rest of the year, but I understand it and I’m with this team,” Chaves said. “I think they got the best driver available in Conor to give us some feedback and to try and prepare for next year. I’ll be at the races and try to contribute what I can.
“But we’re not in contention for anything, so looking at options with different drivers for a second car next year and trying to figure some things out for the rest of this year makes sense.”
Barnhart gave Pato O’Ward a seat fitting Monday and intends to look at Lights leader Colton Herta and Santi Urrutia.
“We want to test all three of those kids,” Barnhart said.
Chaves has had some impressive runs during the past two years with the start-up team based in Indianapolis but his best finish this season has been 14th twice, at St. Pete and the Indy 500. He parked his car last Sunday at Iowa.
“I asked Gabby if he had any tools left because he was hanging on and he said he didn’t so we decided to park it for safety reasons more than anything,” said Barnhart.
Daly qualified in the Fast Six at Toronto in 2016 for Dale Coyne but his only start this year was at Indianapolis.
In June, Harding moved Gerald Tyler, its recently appointed technical director, into position as race engineer at Road America.