Luhr on IndyCar: “If it was easy, everyone would do it”

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Lucas Luhr is, statistically, the most successful driver in American Le Mans Series history with 46 career wins. The German is an exciting and welcome addition to the IZOD IndyCar Series for next week’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, and he already has outlined his respect for IndyCar after his first test at the track earlier this week in the No. 97 RW/SFHR Honda.

“It’s not going to be easy, especially because all the other drivers have been driving these cars for the entire season,” Luhr said in a Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team Q&A. “Coming in as the new guy is not going to be easy, but that’s why I’m doing it. If it was easy everyone would do it.”

Luhr has a versatile sports car background, having driven Audis, Porsches, Aston Martins and now the current Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c in the ALMS P1 and P2 categories. So he’s got experience with high-downforce, high-powered prototypes, and now will work to get used to the Dallara DW12 IndyCar with Honda power.

“To get used to the car will be the most challenging part,” Luhr said. “The way it responds to my action and learning to understand the car, technically and also from a driving point of view. Learning what I need to do to make the car work and to make the tires work.”

He’s had interest in IndyCar dating to when he drove with Roger Penske’s factory-supported Porsche RS Spyder P2 team in the ALMS.

“It’s very simple. When I drove for Roger Penske with the Prototype sports car program he invited me one year to see the Indy 500 and that really made me interested in the series,” Luhr said. “There’s been a few times where ALMS and IndyCar race during the same weekend, so I followed it and would stay an extra day to watch the race. I just like the way American racing has been done. I was always interested in it and followed it, but on the other hand I never really pushed to get in it or have a chance at trying it. Now that this opportunity is here, it’s even better! I’m very excited and am looking forward to it like a little child at Christmas Eve.”

We can’t wait to see him open his presents on an actual race weekend this time next weekend.

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.