Jeff Gordon bolsters Eliminator Round hopes with runner-up finish


Out of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Jeff Gordon was the only one to be on the good side of the Chase Grid going into tonight’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

However, with the Top 8 drivers advancing to the Eliminator Round, Gordon held the eighth spot by just eight points over teammate Kasey Kahne. The four-time Sprint Cup champion was still in a precarious position and needed a big result to put himself farther up the Grid.

Mission accomplished. Gordon couldn’t keep up with race winner Kevin Harvick on the final restart with two laps to go, but his second-place finish elevated him to sixth on the Grid and stretched his cushion over the cutoff to 18 points.

He’ll certainly take that momentum as he prepares to race his way into the Eliminator Round in next weekend’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

“Kevin got out there on us after that last green flag stop, and it looked like we were gonna be second,” Gordon said to ESPN. “I didn’t want to see another restart, because every time we start on the inside, we seemed to lose positions.

“But there at the end, and in the whole race, we were just trying to tune and make it better. We got off a little bit, lost some track position – I had some terrible restarts – but there at the end, four tires, good adjustments, and we were able to get right up in the thick of it. Kevin was tough. I knew when he got up front, it was gonna be hard to beat him.”

But while he has some breathing room now, he’s not out of the woods yet. Talladega still awaits.

“It doesn’t make us by any means very comfortable going into next week, but a lot better than it could be,” he said.

Gordon was especially strong during the first 100 laps of the race, when he took the lead from pole sitter Kyle Busch at Lap 14 and did the same again at Lap 38.

A cycle of green flag stops at Lap 79 ended with him up front once more, but while Gordon ceded the point eventually, he remained firmly embedded in the Top 5 at halfway.

Toward the end of the race, Gordon made another late charge. He moved into “podium” position with 38 laps remaining before taking second behind Harvick with 31 to go.

A final round of green flag stops with about 20 to go kept Gordon in second before Brian Vickers suffered an engine failure with seven laps to go.

Like Harvick, Gordon stayed out on track to prepare for the restart with two to go, which went Harvick’s way as he cleared Gordon off Turn 2 on their way to the white flag.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023


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.