Chase Capsules: Kurt Busch

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41 – Kurt Busch
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
Crew Chief: Daniel Knost
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships: 1 (2004)
Chase History: 8th Chase Appearance, Best finish of 1st in 2004

Regular Season Recap: Starting slow and taking methodical steps forward has been the story for Kurt Busch this year, in his return to a top-flight team after two years spent overachieving with the Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row Racing squads. The fourth Stewart-Haas Racing team, the No. 41, had several reliability issues that plagued the first half of his season; Busch had five DNFs and ranked a season-low 28th in the points after the Coca-Cola 600, the 12th round of the season. Most of that time frame he also had the Indianapolis 500 on his mind, in what has been one of the stories of the season. But hey, he did bank a win early at Martinsville, which was enough to put him in the Chase and key considering this new team hasn’t fully hit its stride yet.

Chris’ Take: Growing pains with a new team and a host of problems on the track marred the first half of the year for Kurt Busch, but it would seem that by this time, everyone on the 41 team should have found their rhythm together by now. And with the Hendrick power on hand, I have a hunch that the Outlaw could be a dark horse.

However, while he’s ran better in the second half of 2014, he still isn’t as consistent a Top-10 finisher as he needs to be in this stretch. Advancing from the Challenger Round should be easy enough, but I can see him being a guy that would need a win in that final Contender Round event at Talladega to move on – and I’m not sure he could get it.

Jerry’s Take: It’s been a rough season for Kurt Busch. Other than his early-season win at Martinsville, he’s literally been off the map more times than on. There’s no question he has talent; he’s a former Cup champion, earning the crown in the first year of the Chase’s existence. But this season has been such a struggle that we honestly don’t see him getting very far in the playoffs. Maybe, just maybe, he can somehow advance to the second round, but that’s where things stop. We don’t see a Cinderella story in Busch’s future at all.

Tony’s Take: Like brother Kyle, Kurt Busch has been rather inconsistent throughout the 2014 season, although unlike Kyle, you’d expect it from Kurt given the fourth SHR team is a new one and takes time to gel. Whether it’s been on pit road or under the hood, few things have gone right for Kurt during this season, after a year in which he performed a memorable underdog run to the Chase with the single-car Furniture Row outfit.

So how will his Chase go? About the same, I’d think. But he could well advance further than you’d think assuming he shook all the bad luck in the first third of the year Just look at his run post-the Coca-Cola 600; only two finishes outside the top-20 with three third-place results have moved him up seven spots in the points.

Kurt Busch’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – No wins, 1 Top-5, 7 Top-10s in 13 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – Three wins, 7 Top-5s, 11 Top-10s in 27 starts
Dover (1 mile) – One wins, 6 Top-5s, 8 Top-10s in 28 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – No wins, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10s in 17 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – One wins, 6 Top-5s, 7 Top-10s in 28 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – No wins, 6 Top-5s, 13 Top-10s in 27 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – Two wins, 3 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 28 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – One win, 3 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 23 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – One wins, 5 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 23 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – One wins, 4 Top-5, 5 Top-10s in 13 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.