Joey Logano avoids “yellow fever,” wins at N.H. to advance in Chase

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Today’s Challenger Round race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup was essentially two races in one.

In the first 170 laps of the Sylvania 300, there were only two cautions. In the final 130 laps, there were 13 of them.

But somebody had to survive the second-half chaos, and that somebody was Joey Logano. The Connecticut native nailed two late restarts, including one in green-white-checkered, to win today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and join Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in the Contender Round.

Logano pitted with 54 laps to go in regulation and took four tires, knocking him out of the Top 10. But that call proved to be the right one.

After returning to the Top 10, he jumped from sixth to third on a restart with 40 to go. He then passed Kevin Harvick for second position and later took the lead off another restart with 28 laps to go.

But it was far from over. With nine laps left, Jeff Gordon cut a right-front tire and slammed into the wall to bunch up the field again. Then on the ensuing restart with four to go, Tony Stewart spun out to force the race into G-W-C.

In the first attempt, Kyle Larson was able to get past Harvick for second. But by the time that the talented rookie had moved to P2, Logano had pulled away to an insurmountable lead.

“I thought we gave it away at that point, but the four tires were good,” Logano told ESPN about the critical pit stop with 54 to go. “We got good restarts and we were able to get ourselves back up there.”

The win is also doubly special for Logano since it came at what he considers his home track. He won his first Cup race at NHMS in 2009, but that was a rain-shortened affair.

Today, it was clear that Logano considers today’s triumph at Loudon more satisfying.

“…This is the coolest place to win for me,” he said. “I can never pick a better race track to win on. I watched my first Cup race here when I was five, and while I won that other Cup race here, I just felt like I had to win one the right way. This means so much.”

Larson held on for runner-up honors ahead of Harvick, Jamie McMurray in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson in fifth. Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Brian Vickers rounded out the Top 10.

Meanwhile, the Chase took a dramatic turn as one championship contender after another fell victim to problems this afternoon. Some like Keselowski and Kyle Busch recovered from their issues; Keselowski, a spin on Lap 194, Busch, a chain-reaction incident on a restart on Lap 188.

Many others, however, did not.

Gordon’s crash relegated him to 26th at the checkered flag, while Busch and Denny Hamlin’s own crashes (Hamlin having his following an earlier fuel probe issue) forced them to swallow 36th and 37th-place finishes. A few managed to soldier on, though, particularly Matt Kenseth in 21st (crash, 31 laps to go) and Kasey Kahne in 23rd (he was in the Kyle Busch incident).

Today’s proceedings definitely ramped up the pressure for those trying to advance as the Challenger Round finale comes next weekend at Dover International Speedway. Here’s how the Chase Grid looks as of now:

1. Brad Keselowski – Advanced
2. Joey Logano – Advanced
3. Kevin Harvick, +41 points over 13th
4. Jimmie Johnson, +31 points
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr., +28 points
6. Kyle Busch, +28 points
7. Jeff Gordon, +21 points
8. Carl Edwards, +8 points
9. Matt Kenseth, +8 points
10. A.J. Allmendinger, +7 points
11. Kasey Kahne, +6 points
12. Ryan Newman, +6 points

13. Denny Hamlin, -6 points behind 12th
14. Greg Biffle, -6 points
15. Kurt Busch, -8 points
16. Aric Almirola -10 points

And here’s a run-down of how all 16 Chasers fared in today’s race:

1. Joey Logano
3. Kevin Harvick
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Aric Almirola
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Kyle Busch
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
13. A.J. Allmendinger
16. Greg Biffle
17. Carl Edwards
18. Ryan Newman
21. Matt Kenseth
23. Kasey Kahne
26. Jeff Gordon
36. Kurt Busch
37. Denny Hamlin

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.