Pagenaud scores maiden IndyCar victory in bipolar second Detroit Dual race

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IndyCar’s inaugural doubleheader format lived up to the billing, and the second Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit was basically a tale of two races in and of itself.

What had been a caution-filled, wreck-filled first half of the race was ignited in the second, and ended with the third first-time winner in seven races this season – Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud in the No. 77 HP Honda.

Pagenaud survived the carnage long enough to lead by lap 50, before his final pit stop on lap 55. He then re-emerged with the lead once James Jakes pitted.

Jakes had Firestone’s softer red alternates for the final dozen laps while Pagenaud was on the primary blacks.

While Jakes could gain enough time at the start of the stint, his tires faded, and he had to perform the task of holding up Mike Conway to hang onto second. In the end, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver recorded his first podium finish (and best ever finish by six places) by edging Conway, in the second Dale Coyne Racing car that Jakes had occupied the last two years.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing finished fourth and fifth with Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Marco Andretti, Charlie Kimball, Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra completed the top 10.

In the seven races this season, there have been six winning drivers, six winning countries, and five winning teams. Additionally, 13 different drivers have scored a podium finish out of a possible 21 opportunities. Honda took five of six podium finishes for the weekend in Detroit.

Unofficially, Castroneves and Andretti are tied for the points lead (206 apiece), ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dixon and Pagenaud.

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.