GP of Indy: Rookie pilot Jack Hawksworth impressive in Top-10 run

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A series of mid-race cautions ultimately caused Jack Hawksworth to fade to a seventh-place finish in today’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – a result that does not fully represent how strong the Verizon IndyCar Series rookie was in regards to pace.

After starting on the front row, Hawksworth passed Hunter-Reay for the lead shortly after the field went back to green following the ill-fated standing start.

But instead of the American veteran reeling him back in, Hawksworth pulled away and kept the point through after the first cycle of green-flag pit stops around the Lap 25-30 range.

By the halfway point, Hawksworth was leading the race by four seconds before the caution came out at Lap 42 for Scott Dixon getting turned around after a battle with Will Power.

While Hawksworth and eventual race winner Simon Pagenaud went in for service, Hunter-Reay chose to stay out and inherited the lead.

Hawksworth restarted ninth but the aforementioned mid-race incidents – which included a crash involving Martin Plowman and Franck Montagny with 34 laps left and another involving Graham Rahal on the subsequent restart – forced the team to try and make strategy work for them.

That didn’t happen, but Hawksworth still was able to garner his first Top-10 finish in the IndyCars after pacing 31 of 82 laps and setting the second-fastest lap of the Grand Prix.

“We got into the lead at the beginning, opened up a gap and we were controlling the race pretty well from what I could see,” he said in a post-race statement. “I felt like we had it all under control and then we got a bit hosed from that yellow.

“The strategy calls were a bit tricky but overall, the car was great to drive. The team gave me a great car all day. We certainly deserved, on pace, a better result than what we got there but we gave it our all.

“We fought back and at least we got the points for seventh place. The pace is there so we’ll come back and try to get after it again.”

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.