Ganassi, Penske drivers fail to make final round of IndyCar quals

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The front of the grid for tomorrow’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is going to look unfamiliar for longtime Verizon IndyCar Series fans.

That’s because not one representative of either Team Penske (Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and Juan Pablo Montoya) or Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe) was able to make the Firestone Fast Six in today’s qualifying session.

It marks the first time since the 2005 inception of the FF6 that both of those teams were not part of one.

Dixon was the sole Ganassi man that made the second round and was able to qualify seventh, while Tony Kanaan (13th) and Charlie Kimball (19th) failed to make it out of the first round.

“In the first round the Target car was good and we had good speed in the session I felt,” Dixon said. “We made a lot of progress from yesterday to today, and again from this morning’s practice through to qualifying.

“We have some work to do tomorrow from our starting position, but we will be prepared.”

The Penske camp also had just one guy – Castroneves – make the second round and he’ll start ninth tomorrow. IndyCar points leader Will Power, who won two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, and Juan Pablo Montoya will start 14th and 16th respectively.

However, Castroneves believes that he’ll have a car ready to work for him.

“It’s going to take some strategy to get to the front and I have the man for that in Roger Penske,” he said. “I’m counting on him tomorrow.

“I can’t wait for tomorrow. We obviously want to start in the front, but with the standing start, I feel like we can still be in good position.”

Ganassi and Penske’s fellow “Big Three” team, Andretti Autosport, swept the front row with pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe.

But the four other competitors in the FF6 represented four other teams – Sebastien Bourdais of KVSH Racing, Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, rookie Jack Hawksworth of Bryan Herta Autosport, and Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

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.