Montoya on his car on reds: “What the hell happened?”


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It’s not often we write that Juan Pablo Montoya has missed the Firestone Fast 6, let alone fail to get out of his first group, since the introduction of manufacturer aero kits prior to the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Since 2015, prior to today, Montoya has only started outside the top 10 three different times: Barber (qualified 15th), the Indianapolis 500 (15th) and Pocono (19th).

Of course that worked well at the latter two events – he won Indy and finished third at Pocono.

But at Barber, he only ended 14th.

He’ll have an even higher mountain to climb on Sunday for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) starting from 21st and last in the 21-car field after his No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet didn’t click with Firestone’s red alternate tires in qualifying.

Still, Montoya was diplomatic more than short when it came to describing his tough day at the office.

“It was OK but normally the reds come in really good and they go away really fast,” Montoya said. “For me they came in OK but they just stayed there. I could run the same lap times over and over again. It is not normal. I had too much understeer in the car and we’ve been fighting it all weekend.

“I felt like this morning where we needed to be for qualifying but we put the reds on there and I was thinking, ‘What the hell happened?’”

Additionally, Montoya didn’t rule out strategy helping bring him to the front on Sunday.

“Yeah but you can go with different strategies to try and get something done. You can’t give up. It was a tough thing qualifying today but we’ll move on.”

Montoya’s 21st place qualifying is the first time in four races this season that a single Team Penske driver has qualified outside the top 10.

Oriol Servia started 22nd and last in St. Petersburg after deputizing for Power, who qualified on pole but was ruled out on medical grounds.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023


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.