Mike Conway could star in Long Beach cameo for RLL

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While the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series was off last weekend, Mike Conway was busy on FIA World Endurance Championship duty in Silverstone.

The Englishman made his WEC debut in an LMP2 class Oreca 03 Nissan for the G-Drive Racing team. He finished seventh in class.

Conway hasn’t started an IndyCar race since Baltimore of last year, where he actually qualified second for A.J. Foyt Racing but lost 10 spots for an unapproved engine change.

It’s been a rocky road in IndyCar since. Conway quit Foyt’s team after a pre-race test at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., citing his discomfort racing on ovals, and was never realistically in the frame for a full-time ride this year.

But, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan ramping up to a second full-time program and third car for selected races, Conway was the pick for Long Beach. He made a smooth pass on Ryan Briscoe two years ago to score a surprise, but popular, first series victory for Andretti Autosport.

Conway had an impressive day-plus of testing for RLL in the series’ official preseason test at Barber. He’s quick on the street courses and a dark horse Firestone Fast Six contender, if not podium contender, this weekend in the No. 17 blu e-Cigs entry for RLL.

“I got a little taste of working with Graham and James at the one-day Barber test we had,” Conway said. “It seemed pretty good with what we were all feeling with the car. We all had similar comments so I think that is good. It will be good to know that if I make a change (to the car) and like it or if Graham makes a change and he likes it then we will be able to transfer that to the other cars and it will make us all quicker.”

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.