Ganassi’s Kimball, Briscoe break through with pair of top-six results in GP of Indy

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This was one post I wanted to hit in the immediate aftermath of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis but between some of the other story lines, it waited a couple days.

But for the Novo Nordisk and NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing teams, the GP of Indy day was a needed result for both Charlie Kimball in the No. 83 and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Both drivers sought to break through earlier this year and on Saturday, they ended fifth and sixth, respectively for their best finishes of the young season. And yet both could have been better if not for tough breaks.

Kimball had a shot at the podium if the Honda runners who ended 1-2, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay, needed to pit for a splash of fuel.

source: Getty Images
Briscoe and Kimball at Barber. Photo: Getty Images

“My engineer, Brad Goldberg, and my team manager, Tom Wurtz, gave me the right pit stops at the right times and just let me go race the car,” Kimball said. “There were so many different strategies going on and all of those yellows made it challenging for our strategy because we had to run hard towards the end just to get back up into the top five after that last stop.”

And Briscoe had a drive-through penalty for a pit safety violation assessed earlier in the race, but he was able to rebound.

“It’s a really exciting result for us,” Briscoe said. “I wasn’t confident after we got the penalty in pit lane early on in the race, but we had a couple of really strong restarts and the car just came to us as the rubber went down on the track. The No. 8 NTT DATA Chevrolet just got better and better as we went through the race.”

Both made huge points gains, with Kimball jumping from 23rd to 16th, and Briscoe from 16th to 11th.

Keep an eye on these two the rest of the month. Briscoe and Kimball are both in the “sneaky good” category at IMS – Briscoe having won the 2012 Indianapolis 500 pole and Kimball having finished in the top-10 each of the last two years.

They worked together as teammates for the first time at this race one year ago, and with the resources of the entire Chip Ganassi Racing organization (the Target pair of Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan are involved in debriefs) and Chevrolet’s record on fuel mileage the last two years, here’s two guys who would not surprise if they wound up in victory lane on May 25.

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.