MRTI: Tan, Eidson win Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway

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BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Weiron Tan (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires) and Jake Eidson (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) won the pair of Mazda Road to Indy races at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday, for FreedomFest.

For both drivers, it is their third win of the season. For Tan, he delivered Andretti’s third straight Pro Mazda win at the track, after Matthew Brabham and Grist won the last two years.

The races were moved to the afternoon of the day before the Indianapolis 500, rather than the traditional night before the 500.

Eidson (Pabst Racing) held off Nico Jamin (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) in the 75-lap USF2000 Mazda Freedom 75, with Eidson particularly strong through slower traffic. Jamin made a late charge but came up short. Jamin’s teammate Aaron Telitz finished in third.

In the Pro Mazda Cooper Tires 90, Tan (Andretti Autosport) led flag-to-flag from pole but had to withstand a late challenge from Will Owen (Juncos Racing), who closed when Tan was trying to lap two of Owen’s teammates in Garett Grist and Jose Gutierrez. Rising Star Racing-backed Neil Alberico, also of Cape, finished in third.

There were championship implications on the day in Pro Mazda with both points leader Santiago Urrutia and third-placed Timothe Buret retiring. Alberico and Tan will have gained significant ground.

Both series head to Toronto next in three weeks time.

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.