Devastation for ‘Dinger in Detroit

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Devastation. That’s the only word to describe the weekend in Detroit for Roger Penske’s open-wheel reclamation project, AJ Allmendinger.

Allmendinger starred in his Indianapolis 500 debut, but a week later on the streets of The Raceway on Belle Isle, Allmendinger may have had his worst ever weekend as a professional driver.

Attempting to thread the needle between Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson on the first lap on Saturday ended with Allmendinger instead going airborne, launching over Dixon’s rear wheel guard and into the concrete barrier at Turn 4.

Sunday was worse. With a sore thumb after the first incident, Allmendinger, in a backup car, got loose on exit of the left-handed Turn 2 and smacked the wall. That ended the race on the first lap for the second day running.

Allmendinger had the extra pressure of running the No. 2 Quicken Loans-sponsored Chevrolet for Penske. His owner promoted the race, and his sponsor was the presenting race sponsor.

“I can’t say sorry enough to @penskeracing and @quickenloans for this weekend… my mistakes are embarrassing and that is an understatement,” Allmendinger wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “I’m grateful for Roger and @penskeracing for their trust and support of me. I never want to repay them like this. Sorry to all my crew guys for making them work so hard for nothing. I’m so sorry. Not sure where to go from here. Feel like I just need to get away for a few weeks.

“Thank you to my family, friends and fans for the support and kind words. @detroitgp was a great event. Nothing more I can say. Also a congrats to my teammate @h3lio being tied for the points lead and sorry for @12WillPower he had an awesome drive till he was wrecked.”

Allmendinger doesn’t have any more scheduled open-wheel starts for Penske. Besides Indianapolis, he also raced at Barber and Long Beach earlier this year. They marked his first open-wheel races since 2006.

On Saturday, Penske announced he’d run Allmendinger in a handful of NASCAR Nationwide Series road course events.

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.