It’s official: Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman fill last two Chase berths

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Greg Biffle may have finished Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway in 19th place, two laps off the lead, but it was still enough to get Biffle into the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Biffle joins Ryan Newman, whose spot was all but assured heading into Saturday’s race, as the final two entrants to fill out the expanded 16-driver Chase field.

Biffle will make his seventh career appearance in the Chase, ranked in the 15th position, with Newman 16th.

“It’s got to be the toughest race of my life,” Biffle told ESPN afterward. “Man, I drove so hard. We just missed the setup, our whole company did, myself, Carl (Edwards) and Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.).

“It was real frustrating. We had to finish 20th or higher. Tonight was not pretty, I drove as hard as I could and it was enough to get us in. It was all I could do.”

Added Newman, “Everybody’s stepped up. It’s time to step up even more now. We’ll go see if we can make the best of it.”

Biffle’s finish obscured what had been an outstanding last-ditch attempt by third-place finisher Clint Bowyer to make the Chase, only to fall short by seven points.

Bowyer had been in the Chase hunt until last Sunday night at Atlanta, when a broken transmission shifter relegated him to a 38th-place finish, dropping him 23 points out of the Chase.

“If you make the Chase, you get to compete for the championship, but truth be told, we’re not there right now,” Bowyer said. “We have to build on the momentum we had tonight. It’s definitely frustrating not to make it.

“The 2 and 24 (Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon) have pretty much been the class of the field this year. That was our best effort. That’s all I had. That’s all we had as our ace. We put it all out there and we were still third-best.”

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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.