Kyle Busch keeps pace in championship with another Top-5

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From Kyle Busch’s perspective, he squeezed as much out of his car as he could have en route to a fifth-place finish in today’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Busch continued his consistent Chase for the Sprint Cup so far, punching out a Top-5 result after finishing second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and Chase leader Matt Kenseth in the first two post-season races at Chicagoland and New Hampshire.

But in a sign of how tough his championship battle will be, he still fell back to third in the standings behind race winner Jimmie Johnson – even though he has earned an average finish of third so far in the Chase.

“We were about a fifth to seventh-place car much of the day, and we ended up fifth…Certainly, I wish we definitely could’ve gotten more,” Busch said afterwards. “We probably could’ve if I could’ve got the outside lane on the final restart; I probably could’ve finished third, but we didn’t get that.

“We had to fight through it and pass a couple cars the hard way, and we ended up fifth. It’s certainly the finish that our car had today. When you look at the grand scheme of things and it’s three straight Top-5 finishes to start the Chase, it’s not too bad.”

Like his teammate Kenseth, Busch was stuck on the inside lane going into the final restart with 26 laps remaining after taking four tires on his final stop. However, he insisted that taking four was the right call instead of going for two in an attempt to gain track position.

“[I’m] definitely glad we made that call and I just wish that maybe I would have come out one spot worse off pit road so I could have had the outside,” Busch said. “As quick as everything happens in this sport, you can’t always predict and get what you want.”

“The inside lane just doesn’t get going [on restarts] here. I think it’s because you’re lower in the bowl than the outside lane is and you’re coming up out of it and you’re just having to come uphill and obviously, the more uphill you have to go, it’s harder – whether you’re a human being or mechanical horsepower.”

Busch now sits 12 points behind Kenseth as the series heads for Kansas, which has not been one of the better tracks for “Rowdy.” In 12 career starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Busch has finished no better than seventh (2006) and has crashed out in his last two runs there.

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.