IndyCar: Huertas, Wilson unable to get Houston sweep for Dale Coyne Racing

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Dale Coyne Racing pulled the upset in Saturday’s first race of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. But problems for both Race 1 winner Carlos Huertas and Justin Wilson in today’s Race 2 kept them from earning a Space City sweep.

After claiming his first Verizon IndyCar Series win less than 24 hours before, Huertas was the first to bow out of today’s event.

The Colombian started 12th, but on Lap 3, he suddenly slowed on track and took his No. 18 Cafe de Colombia Honda off-course.

Race strategist Darren Crouser told NBCSN that the car simply “shut off” and Huertas himself didn’t have an exact reason for the failure.

“I feel really good for yesterday and today is disappointing, but it is impossible to finish every race without having at least one problem,” said Huertas, who suffered the first DNF of his rookie season.

“Hopefully, we don’t have any more. It was strange because the car just shut off completely. It must have been an electrical failure or something but we don’t know right now. All in all, I am proud of our accomplishments this weekend.”

That left Wilson to carry the DCR banner and despite having problems on restarts, he was able to put his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda in the Top 5.

But shortly after a restart with 24 laps to go, Marco Andretti made slight contact with Wilson while racing for fifth. It sent Wilson into the tire barrier at Turn 9 to trigger another yellow.

IndyCar chose to take no action regarding the incident. Wilson was able to keep going but finished one lap down in 12th.

“We struggled a bit on restarts, so guys were all over the back of me,” Wilson said of his day. “I knew that if I could hang on for a couple of laps I would get going and be quick again.

“Marco tried to come down the inside and it wasn’t really going to happen. He tried to get out of it and he just tapped me into the wall. He came down and apologized and said ‘I didn’t mean to do that.’ It is just racing.

“I know it was just a mistake and it is a shame but we kept going on when we were a lap down and we were trying to salvage any points we can.”

Andretti also tweeted apologies to Wilson following the race.

https://twitter.com/MarcoAndretti/status/483379736542867456

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.