TUSC: Rolex 24 PC class preview

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The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship premieres this weekend with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. We’ll have sporadic posts and updates for the season opener of the unified series, which brings together the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series.

Next up in our list of class previews, the PC class.

PC CLASS

WHAT IT IS: The second prototype class. Cars require at least two Silver or Bronze drivers combined in four-or-five driver lineups. All-spec ORECA FLM09 chassis with Chevrolet powerplants (unbadged) and spec Continental Tires. This class carried over from the ALMS and has been praised for its low costs and good racing between both the pro and am drivers. This will be the first 24-hour race for the PC class, which never ran more than 12 in any ALMS race.

WHO THEY ARE: 9 spec ORECA FLM09s, driven by a mix of sports car veterans, IndyCar interlopers and gentlemen drivers ranked either Silver or Bronze according to IMSA’s driver ranking system (Platinum and Gold are reserved for paid professionals).

A QUICK BREAKDOWN: Starworks Motorsport (No. 7/8) and RSR Racing (No. 08/09) run two cars apiece, with 8Star Motorsports (No. 25), Performance Tech Motorsports (No. 38), PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports (No. 52), CORE autosport (No. 54) and BAR1 Motorsports (No. 87) rounding up the class.

CORE is the three-time defending team champion from ALMS; a win for BAR1 would be its fourth straight after taking the last three of 2013. All teams except 8Star (which only ran the season-ending ALMS race, and finished second in its debut) and Starworks (one PC class start) have at least one class victory from the ALMS.

WHO TO WATCH: The pro drivers in class include Sam Bird (GP2 runner-up), Kyle Marcelli and Renger van der Zande at Starworks, Alex Tagliani, Conor Daly, Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende at RSR, Tom Kimber-Smith and Rob Huff at 8Star, Raphael Matos at Performance Tech, Gunnar Jeannette at PR1/Mathiasen, Colin Braun, Mark Wilkins and James Gue at CORE, and Sean Rayhall at BAR1. Others may emerge depending on the timing of the stint or how well the am-ranked drivers hold up in their stints.

Picking a favorite? This is hard. I would not be surprised with any class winner, and likely the class winner is the one that endures the least amount of reliability issues.

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.