Chase Capsules: Aric Almirola

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43-Aric Almirola
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
Crew Chief: Trent Owens
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Best Finish: 18th (2013)
Inaugural Chase Appearance

Regular Season Recap: Beyond the short tracks of Bristol and Martinsville, Almirola had been largely ensconced in mid-pack through the first half of 2014. But then came a soggy Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, which ended on a rain shower and with Almirola at the front of the field. Rain-shortened or not, a win’s a win and it put him into the Chase. Since that point, however, Almirola has pretty much returned to mid-pack status with just one Top-10 finish (ninth at Atlanta) following his victory.

Chris’ Take: A championship is simply too big a goal right now for Almirola and the mid-sized RPM team, and they probably know that. They also probably know that they can’t rely on another shock win to get them out of the Challenger Round. Almirola hasn’t been terrible on 1.5-milers like Chicagoland, but he hasn’t been a contender. And his past records at Loudon and Dover aren’t exactly robust. In order to advance, he and RPM have to pick up their performance. It’s that simple.

Jerry’s Take: As we see almost every year in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, a Cinderella team emerges and winds up going to at least the semifinals, if not further. In this case, Almirola has the potential to be NASCAR’s Cinderella, but he definitely has to step up his performance and go for the jugular in the first round. He has to drive it like he stole it, because there’s nine other guys who are going to do the same. This will be where Almirola shows that he not only has the talent to reach the championship round, but that he’ll pull off a few surprises along the way to do it.

Tony’s Take: Isn’t it cool to say the 43 has a shot to win the championship? Yes it is. And quite likely, that’s about the only thing cool we’ll be saying about the 43 in this year’s Chase. Almirola is the biggest unknown quantity in the pressure cooker of a playoff – even more than Allmendinger, who fought for open-wheel titles. It’s hard to see them doing much of anything, and if they escape the Challenger Round, that will be a major accomplishment.

Aric Almirola’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, no Top-10s in 2 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – No wins, 1 Top-5, 1 Top-10 in 8 starts
Dover (1 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, 1 Top-10 in 5 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, 3 Top-10s in 5 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, no Top-10s in 5 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, 1 Top-10s in 9 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – No win, 1 Top-5, 3 Top-10s in 11 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, 1 Top-10s in 7 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – No wins, no Top-5s, no Top-10s in 7 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – No wins, 1 Top-5, 2 Top-10s in 4 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.