Danica: Cup debut at Indy was “not anything special”

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In her first Brickyard 400, Danica Patrick just couldn’t summon up the past magic she had in an IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Sprint Cup rookie was name-checked in the command from IMS board chairwoman Mari Hulman George – “Danica and gentlemen, start your engines,” she said – but was unable to move towards the lead pack in the race and finished 30th.

“You know, it just wasn’t anything special,” Patrick said about her long Sunday afternoon at the Speedway. “I just kind of kept with it and hoped to catch a break somewhere or that the car would get a lot better and it just kind of stayed real steady.”

“We took two tires on one of the stops and we got track position out of it, but unfortunately, it just didn’t run very well. So, we tried something; it just didn’t work and that’s that. It just was what it was.”

Patrick believed that additional practice would have helped matters, saying that despite her past experience at IMS, she felt that she didn’t know the track well enough in the car she had today.

“I didn’t feel like I was extremely comfortable as in I knew where to take the car to the limit,” she said. “More time would have probably helped. That’s where experience comes in and it’s not like [the Indianapolis 500] – we don’t have a whole week [to practice]. So, we’ve got to get it done in a couple of hours.”

Despite her problems on the track, she was still happy for Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman, who won in front of his home crowd.

“We’ve had a trying year for sure and so, the high point of Tony [Stewart] winning at Dover and Ryan winning here is pretty cool,” she said. “This is a special place and I’m sure he’s very happy in Victory Lane.”

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.