NASCAR: Joey Logano talks about Penske camaraderie – and his lost wedding ring

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Joey Logano has completed one full month of his married life. However, he already is on his second ring.

The Team Penske driver, part of the final four in last year’s Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was asked about being a newlywed Wednesday at the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, N.C.

“It’s going great,” Logano said. “I’m on my second ring already. But I’ve got the same girl, so that part’s great.”

That drew a good amount of laughter from the assembled news media, which had guffawed earlier this morning at Ricky Stenhouse Jr. borrowing Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s “I’m just here, so I won’t get fined” bit from Super Bowl XLIX Media Day.

So what happened to the first ring?

“I lost the first one,” Logano told reporters, including NBC Sports’ Dustin Long. “We were kayaking in Costa Rica. We went down this little waterfall thing and flipped. I was just excited I didn’t have to go to the hospital in Costa Rica, and I thought that was great.

“About 30 minutes later, the adrenaline wore off. I looked and it was, ‘Huh, my ring is gone.’ Now it’s floating around down there somewhere.”

Logano added that he’s made his backup ring last longer than his first one. Still, he hopes to avoid such mishaps behind the wheel of his No. 22 Team Penske Ford this year.

Though a costly late pit stop at Homestead denied him the chance at a championship, it didn’t erase that Logano was a breakout performer in 2014 with five victories.

Logano attributed it to his relationship with crew chief Todd Gordon and team, as well as getting acclimated to Team Penske’s culture.

“It took the first year [2013] to kind of understand that, and [in 2014], we’re able to go in there knowing what we were going to be up against,” Logano said. “We came awfully close to winning the championship. It’s something to be proud of, for sure. It’s an amazing opportunity to be there at Homestead and having a shot at a championship, and I think we can take a lot out of that experience.

“Hopefully, we can be in the same boat again this year, but a lot more prepared in knowing what we’re getting ourselves into if we get there.”

Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski combined for an impressive 11 race wins in 2014, adding to a great year for Team Penske that included a Verizon IndyCar Series title (Will Power) and XFINITY Series owner’s title for its No. 22 program there. You can’t be that successful without everybody being on the same page and having a high esprit de corps. Logano said the camaraderie throughout the shop is a critical element.

“I think it’s key that (we’re) all at the same level,” Logano said. “[And] it goes across all of Team Penske. We all work really well together. That is very important. That trickles all the way down from [team owner] Roger [Penske] to everyone working at the shop building our race cars.”

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.