Chase Capsules: Kyle Busch

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18 – Kyle Busch
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Crew Chief: Dave Rogers
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Best Finish: 4th (2013)
Chase History: 6th Chase Appearance, Best finish of 4th in 2013

Regular Season Recap: Busch held off rookie Kyle Larson to win at Auto Club Speedway at March, which didn’t seem such a big deal at the time – “The Shrub” is usually good for three or four wins and a solid position in the standings. As it turned out that was his only regular season win. He’s in the midst of a late-summer slump, with an engine failure at Pocono, back-to-back finishes of 40th and 39th at Watkins Glen and Michigan and his wreck at Bristol dropping him from sixth to 17th in the points. It’s been a strange reversal of fortunes as in three of the four races prior, he’d finished second.

Chris’ Take: Busch’s refusal to pack it in during the 2013 Chase after a bad finish at Kansas should have me more confident in how he can fare during the post-season. But his ongoing feast-or-famine stretch, combined with a few dollops of drama (Bristol with crew chief Dave Rogers, Atlanta with Martin Truex Jr.), has me worried instead.

Not that Busch can’t recover and do well in the post-season; we were wondering about Jimmie Johnson’s problems going into last year’s Chase and he ended up a champion for the sixth time. But that 48 group has proven that they can turn it on pretty much at will. Busch and the 18 camp have not. They’ll get out of the Challenger Round, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them eliminated in the Contender Round.

Jerry’s Take: While Kyle Busch finished a career-best fourth in the Chase last season, it wasn’t so much what he did, but what the other Chase contenders didn’t do. He excelled because they failed. This season, with the field expanded from 12 to 16 drivers, Busch is going to be a non-entity. Frankly, we don’t see him getting past the first round. He might catch a break at a place like Dover to sneak into the second round, but there’s no way the younger Busch brother gets any further than that. Once again, it will be a case of talent and promise unfulfilled when it means the most.

Tony’s Take: Perhaps Busch and the 18 team are employing the Jimmie Johnson “Hey, let’s get our bad run out of races out of the way before the Chase” strategy. Otherwise, following the Busch-Dave Rogers Bristol blowup, confidence and momentum is low for this camp which makes the Chase but with very little in the way of positive vibes.

Busch in the past has always enjoyed strong regular seasons, with multiple wins. But form has fluctuated lately and generally trended downward. Week-to-week, you never know if the 18 team will be a victory contender or barely crack the top-15. It’s for that reason and with Busch’s consistent struggles in the Chase that it’s hard to see this group as a title contender, and leaves them vulnerable for early elimination.

Kyle Busch’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – One wins, 4 Top-5s, 4 Top-10s in 9 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – One win, 7 Top-5s, 9 Top-10s in 19 starts
Dover (1 mile) – Two wins, 9 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 19 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, 2 Top-10s in 14 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – No wins, 9 Top-5s, 13 Top-10s in 21 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – One win, 4 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 19 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – No wins, 8 Top-5s, 9 Top-10s in 18 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – One win, 7 Top-5s, 8 Top-10s in 18 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – One wins, 3 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 19 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – No wins, 1 Top-5, 3 Top-10s in 9 starts

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.