NASCAR: Ross Chastain moving up to XFINITY Series with JD Motorsports

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After making seven XFINITY Series starts in 2014, Ross Chastain has landed a full-time 2015 drive in NASCAR’s No. 2 national series with JD Motorsports.

Chastain will drive the No. 4 Chevrolet Camaro with support from Watermelon.org and the National Watermelon Association.

His connection with the refreshing fruit goes beyond sponsorship, as the 22-year-old Floridian was born and then grew up working on a farm that’s heavily involved in the watermelon industry.

“It’s great to be involved with Watermelon.org, and we want to take them along for a great ride this year,” Chastain said in a team release. “I’m looking forward to working with [team owner] Johnny [Davis] and his guys and making a mark this year in [the XFINITY Series].

“Ross has an amazing level of experience for a young driver,” Davis said. “He brings a lot to our team. We’re looking forward to seeing how far we can go this year with his input and the support of Watermelon.org and the National Watermelon Association. It’s going to be a big year.”

Chastain will team up with Sprint Cup veteran Landon Cassill in JD’s No. 01 Chevrolet and Harrison Rhodes in a third, as-of-now-unnumbered car.

Last season, Chastain’s best finish in the XFINITY Series was a 10th-place showing at Kentucky in the fall. He also made three starts in the Camping World Truck Series, where he ran the full schedule in 2012 (one Top-5, four Top-10s) and the majority of events in 2013 (four Top-5s, seven Top-10s in 14 starts).

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.