Chase Capsules: Matt Kenseth

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20-Matt Kenseth
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships: 1 (2003)
11th Chase Appearance, Best Finish of 2nd (2006, 2013)

Regular Season Recap: After a seven-win season in 2013, observers expected Kenseth to be one of the first drivers to lock into this year’s Chase with a victory. But with JGR suffering from a lack of power compared to the dominant Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske, Kenseth instead made the postseason by pretty much doing what got him the 2003 title and what he’s always done over the course of his career: Racking up Top-5s and Top-10s. Squeezing out solid finishes when wins aren’t in the cards is perhaps his greatest quality as a driver.

Chris’ Take: Winning is the fastest way to move through the new Chase, but failing that, you have to be able to run towards the front. We don’t have to worry about the latter with Kenseth when he avoids trouble. But while his consistency can take him through the first two rounds of the Chase, it may not be enough to get him to Homestead with a chance at his second Cup title. Toyota’s overall power deficit has Kenseth and his JGR teammates entering the postseason at a disadvantage. Because of that, I can’t help but think that the Eliminator Round is as far as Kenseth will get.

Jerry’s Take: I don’t know why, but I’ve been saying this for probably the last seven or eight weeks: Matt Kenseth is to the 2014 season that Tony Stewart was to the 2011 campaign. Stewart did not win one race in the 26-race regular season, and then went on to win a record five races in the Chase and en route to the championship. We think Kenseth is cut from the same mold. If he goes into the Chase without a win, we think he’s good for at least two or three in the playoffs. Kenseth is one of those drivers who definitely steps up his game in the Chase, and this could be the biggest step-up that he may ever face.

Tony’s Take: An odd second year for Kenseth, whose win drought has been one of the stories of the year. Always the measure of consistency, but this format doesn’t really set up for a title run. Yet if there’s anyone who could advance through this new Chase purely on consistency, Kenseth’s your guy. If he finishes high enough ahead of the other Chasers throughout the first few rounds and bags a win, he could well end up advancing through to Homestead. I wouldn’t bet on it happening, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Matt Kenseth’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – 1 win, 3 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 13 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – 1 win, 7 Top-5s, 15 Top-10s in 29 starts
Dover (1 mile) – 2 wins, 14 Top-5s, 20 Top-10s in 31 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – 2 wins, 6 Top-5s, 10 Top-10s in 17 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – 2 wins, 9 Top-5s, 16 Top-10s in 30 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – 1 win, 5 Top-5s, 9 Top-10s in 29 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – No wins, 4 Top-5s, 10 Top-10s in 29 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – 2 wins, 13 Top-5s, 17 Top-10s in 24 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – 1 win, 5 Top-5s, 9 Top-10s in 24 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – 1 win, 4 Top-5s, 6 Top-10s in 14 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.