NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 11 Jimmie Johnson

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Jimmie Johnson

Season finish: 11th

2014 Season Stats: 4 Wins, 11 Top-5s, 20 Top-10s, 1 Pole.

What went right: After going winless in the first 11 races, Johnson returned to his familiar dominance with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and followed that the next week with another triumph at Dover. Two weeks later, he finally conquered Michigan, a track that had not been one of his best. After such a stellar display, you had to think that things were returning to normal for Johnson and for NASCAR, really. But as it turned out…

What went wrong: …Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team couldn’t keep their form. An ugly five-race summer stretch (42nd at Daytona, 42nd at New Hampshire, 14th at Indy, 39th at Pocono, 28th at Watkins Glen) again fired up questions of what was going wrong with the champions. In 2013, Johnson hit a rough patch going into the Chase but still won his sixth Sprint Cup in the end. However, he couldn’t replicate that in 2014 and was bounced in the Contender Round. Johnson rallied for a fourth win of the season at Texas but that was buried by teammate Jeff Gordon’s post-race fight with Brad Keselowski in the pits.

2015 Prospectus: With the problems that Team 48 had in 2014, there was chatter regarding a possible breakup of the successful partnership between Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus. But both men have shot those rumors down. Now, after struggling to ‘solve” the 2014 rules package that admittedly did not fit Johnson’s driving style, the duo and their squad must make sure that doesn’t happen again with the 2015 package.

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.