Post-Road America test, Chilton looks for improved second half

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Max Chilton heads into this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America (Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) looking to put a somewhat frustrating first half of the season behind him and start posting some results of note in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet car.

Arguably his best race to date came in his first start at Phoenix, when he finished seventh. Otherwise, forgettable results of 14th on back have occurred in the remaining seven races.

As he and the IndyCar circuit head to a number of tracks where Chilton had success in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series last year – when he was one of the top drivers in the second half with Carlin – the results could start coming.

He missed Toronto owing to his Le Mans conflict but he won at Iowa and came second in both Mid-Ohio races. Road America and Watkins Glen, two more flowy, sinewy road courses, should also suit his style.

“It was a great test,” Chilton told NBC Sports after testing at Road America last week. “An 8-6 session with 10 hours of testing is way more than what you’re used to. We started – we started at 10 it was dry at that point. Ran all the way to 6, then I rushed out to the airport.

“It’s more a European track. Very much a small Spa even though it’s only 0.2 of a mile shorter. The fans will enjoy it so, so much. There will be plenty of overtaking opportunities.”

Chilton, who scored six podiums last year in Indy Lights en route to finishing fifth in points, has noted luck more than lack of performance has been the culprit this year that leaves him currently 19th in points this year.

“I genuinely feel we have had bad luck. Detroit, the steering column failed. Indy in qualifying was my fault, and that put us on the back foot and we did a decent job from there (finished 15th). Alexander made that look pretty average, though! The accident wasn’t the plan. We did good to get back from them.

“Detroit… what can you say. I had a shunt that wasn’t my fault, that happens. The guys rebuilt the car and then Sunday I ended up crashing avoiding an accident in front of me, with Hinch, which was difficult to take.

“Having two DNFs like that on a weekend, that’s the only time it’s ever happened in my career. And with two in two days I left there a bit of a grump. It’s racing – it goes from highs to lows very quickly.

“For many reasons here should be a good weekend. All the teams don’t have a current setup. It’s my sort of circuit. I like the way it flows. With the team’s experience, they have tested before, they had a really good test, TK (Tony Kanaan) did brakes, and I did setup.”

Chilton will be back in the U.S. heading into Road America after a quick trip back home to England last weekend following the test. Prior to Road America after Texas, Chilton spent a couple days in Chicago, which he’s quickly found to be one of his most enjoyable places in the U.S. when here.

“This is my longest trip I’ve ever been away from home. Seven weeks. I think it went quickly,” Chilton explained. “But when I first flew out, the day before the Texas test, which seems months ago. It hit me when I get home. It’s completely changed looks!

“I’m really enjoying the American way of life and the RVs. It’s not like you get out of the car and rush to the hotel. You sit around and chat in the evenings. I have said that since I joined the scenes. I think that’s why people tend to race there longer than other championships.”

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.