IndyCar set for Barber open test

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As in 2011, the IZOD IndyCar Series will test at Barber Motorsports Park before its first race of the season at St. Petersburg. Official pre-season testing shifted to Sebring International Raceway last year.

This Tuesday and Wednesday, expect the full field of 25 cars to be testing together for the first time this year. Additionally, Team Penske has confirmed AJ Allmendinger will test this week as well, in preparation for his return to the series for the April 7 race.

A number of teams tested at Sebring in February and another nine more cars did at Sonoma at the end of the month.

The only unconfirmed seat on the grid is Dale Coyne’s second car, which is notoriously late to be filled. Ana Beatriz has been rumored to fill the seat and may test this week; the Brazilian ran two races in a jointly prepared Conquest Racing/Andretti Autosport car last year.

Barber’s qualifying session in 2012 was interrupted by a red flag in the middle of the second round of qualifying for the fastest 12 cars. When Ryan Hunter-Reay spun and contacted the wall, it caught several drivers out without a fast enough time to advance to the Firestone Fast Six. The Fast Six, then, comprised two drivers making their only Top 6 appearance in 2012 (JR Hildebrand, Tony Kanaan) and one who only made two (Mike Conway).

Conway’s been replaced at A.J. Foyt Racing by Takuma Sato this season. The Japanese driver led a day of Sebring testing on Feb. 19.

Of the 26 projected cars, only James Jakes (RLL Racing), Coyne’s second driver, and Bryan Herta Autosport’s Alex Tagliani are making their first tests of 2013 this week.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.