RCR names two female drivers to development program, including daughter of Wally Dallenbach Jr.

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Richard Childress is known as an innovator and a team owner who likes to give breaks, especially to young drivers.

Childress accomplished both Wednesday when it was announced that two female drivers have been named to RCR’s driver development program.

Kate Dallenbach and Ahnna Parkhurst will race under the RCR and Team Dillon Racing banners in 2015.

Dallenbach, 17, is the daughter of driver-turned-broadcaster Wally Dallenbach Jr., and Robin McCall Dallenbach, a former driver herself with two starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kate’s grandfather, Wally Dallenbach, was a longtime Indy car driver and chief steward for the former CART series.

Dallenbach will compete in dirt and asphalt races this season.

“Some RCR and TDR members and I have been watching Kate for several years and have been impressed with her driving ability,” Childress said in a release. “She is a quality driver in races and the results from her testing dirt Late Models have been very positive.

“I look forward to what the future holds for Kate, and we will do all we can to help her succeed.”

Dallenbach has been racing since she was 8 in quarter midgets and has progressed to win several local and regional championships in Texas, North Carolina and Florida.

This season, Dallenbach will compete in 20 races for Lee Faulk Racing and 10 others on dirt for RCR/TDR at Boyd Speedway in Georgia.

“I am honored and looking forward to being a larger part of RCR’s Driver Development Program this year,” Dallenbach said. “As a driver, I’m looking forward to improving my racing skills and winning some dirt and asphalt races. I hope to start testing Trucks in the future, as well.”

Parkhurst, 14, is an Augusta, Ga., native entering her second season of competitive racing. She will race in the dirt Crate Late Models for RCR/TDR.

“Ahnna has an incredible natural talent and absorbs everything she can to become a better driver every time she races,” Childress said. “Everything I have seen and heard about her racing has been positive. She is going to learn and improve even more this year on the dirt tracks and I look forward to watching that progress.”

In 42 Mini Outlaws races in 2014, Parkhurst won 13 and finished runner-up 12 times at Millbridge (N.C.) Speedway. Her schedule is planned for 40 races, split between Boyd (Ga.) Speedway, Swainsboro (Ga.) Speedway and Modoc (S.C.) Speedway.

“I raced just about every other Wednesday night from March until November of last year,” Parkhurst said. “RCR and TDR said they are going to give me their best effort to be competitive and try and win races. It’s up to me to give them my best efforts in return.”

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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.