Harvick looks for ‘Dega win that could knock out several Chase rivals

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Kevin Harvick’s win last Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway allowed him to advance to the Chase’s Eliminator Round.

But as far as he’s concerned, his work in the current Contender Round – which ends this Sunday with the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway – is not yet over.

A second consecutive win for Harvick would potentially erase several of his biggest rivals for the Sprint Cup championship.

Going into Sunday, Brad Keselowski of Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all effectively in win-or-bust situations.

Thus, Harvick is compelled to try and ensure their elimination by robbing them of the automatic advance that comes with a Chase victory.

After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a Chase without Keselowski, Johnson, and Dale Jr. means a better shot for Harvick to finally capture that elusive first Cup.

“Anytime you see people in a vulnerable position where they could not advance to the next round, from a competitor’s standpoint you want to do everything you can do to try and keep an upper hand,” said Harvick, the second driver to advance to the Eliminator Round after Joey Logano did it with his win at Kansas two weeks ago.

“Whatever your best shot is for your team is what you want to see happens. You may have some feelings one way or the other toward teams and drivers and different people, and you want to see different scenarios play out and the excitement that goes with it.

“But in the end, you want the best scenario for your team to win a championship from pure greed standpoint, I guess you could say. Really that’s what we’re here to do and that’s win the championship and you want the best scenario for your team.”

A ‘Dega win would also confirm that Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team have indeed captured the form necessary to contend for a title.

Their victory in the second race of the season at Phoenix allowed the team to work on jelling together as a unit. As the litany of bad breaks for them throughout the summer will tell you, the process has been far from perfect.

But is everything coming together for them at just the right moment? Harvick hopes that’s the case.

“Hopefully, you’re getting to a refined point that you think is where you need to be to race for a championship,” Harvick said. “Last week was kind of the beginning of that and hopefully, we can close out the last several weeks at the same level we had then.

“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. I think there is a huge sigh of relief in a way [by winning at Charlotte] but it’s also that this is what you want to do and expect to do at this time of year.”

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.