NASCAR: Brett Moffitt to drive Brian Vickers’ No. 55 car at Atlanta

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Michael Waltrip Racing’s plans for its No. 55 Toyota Camry in the first two races of the 2015 Sprint Cup season are now fully realized.

While Brian Vickers is slated to return to the car at Las Vegas in March, team owner Michael Waltrip will drive it at the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 22. And today during the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, MWR announced that team test driver Brett Moffitt will take over the No. 55 the next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Moffitt said following a team meeting that announced Waltrip’s involvement at Daytona, he was “a little bit down” because he wasn’t sure what direction things were going.

“They were trying to work everything out with Aaron’s and all of our partners at MWR,” Moffitt said. “But afterwards, [team executive] Ty [Norris] pulled me into his office and said, ‘Everything’s good. They want to give you this opportunity and we do here [at MWR] because we believe in you.’

That was probably one of the happiest days of my life, just being able to hear that. But from there, it transfers real quick to ‘All right, now I need to go out there and perform.'”

Moffitt drove the No. 66 car, a collaboration between MWR and Jay Robinson Racing, in seven Sprint Cup events last season. His best finish was a 22nd in his first race at Dover International Speedway in the spring. He also competed at Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, and Homestead-Miami.

“He was the driver that everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing wanted to be in that car at Atlanta,” Waltrip said. “They believe in his ability and we know how much he’s helped us in our testing and preparation in getting to the race track.

“[No. 55 sponsor] Aaron’s is gonna reward him and Michael Waltrip Racing is going to reward him with the chance to drive a winning race car.”

Vickers, now with medical clearance to return at Vegas following corrective surgery in December to repair a hole in his heart, gave the move his blessing.

“He’s a great young man, he’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he’s a good race car driver,” Vickers said today in Charlotte. “I’ve been able to work with him a lot during testing, and I’ve been very proud of his effort.

“No one is more deserving of getting a shot at this car more at Atlanta than him. I think it was the right choice by everybody. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s gonna go there and have a shot at winning that race.”

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.