Sean Rayhall finally gets his Indy Lights shot with 8Star

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When 8Star Motorsports announced its program in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship this season, logic would have dictated the team’s standout driver from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Sean Rayhall, would have moved up with them.

Alas, despite a seat fit and signs pointing to him having the shot, he was unable to strike a deal ahead of the season-opening round at St. Petersburg. The Enzo Potolicchio-led team made it to St. Pete with Scott Hargrove, another talented young prospect, who had done well in winter testing.

But Rayhall will get his first shot this weekend, in 8Star’s entry for the pair of races at Barber Motorsports Park, for what both hope will be the first of many more weekends together in the series.

“I am so excited to have this chance to be back with 8Star Motorsports and to make my Indy Lights debut. I am very fortunate to have Bass Egg and Edvisors who believed in me to put together the funding for this event. I am beyond grateful for their efforts! ,” Rayhall said in a team release. “I am really looking forward to get back on track at Barber where I have had experience before and get my first laps in the Dallara IL-15!”

Added team manager Gary Neal, “After a succesfull 2014 season with Sean, it is good to have him back, this time in the 8Star Motorsports Indy Lights. Even though we missed the Long Beach race and lost a little room against the other teams, we are now back on track with Sean (Rayhall) and his effort to be at Barber. Sean is very talented and we will work hard in the practices leading up to the race to make him as comfortable as possible in the car and have a good, clean race.”

The Rayhall confirmation will leave the Indy Lights field at Barber at either 12 or 13 cars, depending now if Andretti Autosport confirms Matthew Brabham for a third consecutive weekend. The series is yet to release the entry list.

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.