Foust’s third win of Red Bull GRC season huge for VW Andretti team

Photo: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
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Tanner Foust’s win in Round 5 of the Red Bull Global Rallycross season at Daytona International Speedway was big enough for him, but probably even bigger for his Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team.

The driver of the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Volkswagen Beetle GRC’s Saturday race was compromised when he hit a hole on the track, which pitched him into the perpetually luckless Patrik Sandell of Bryan Herta Rallysport. A fire for Scott Speed’s second Beetle then followed and suddenly Steve Arpin secured his first GRC win.

Foust, meanwhile, rebounded with a vengeance on Sunday after his Andretti crew completed repairs on his car and also got Speed out and rolling in a backup car. A 1-2 finish was the perfect reward for the team.

“It was obviously nice to win after an unfortunate race on Saturday. But really, the vindication and the greatest part about winning on Sunday was for the team,” Foust told NBC Sports.

“These mechanics were working the entire weekend overnight, piecing cars together, replacing items on a time crunch, it was hot, and just not ideal conditions to be cranking like that.

“When we got to Sunday, everyone was basically getting together and said, ‘This is like doing the Daytona 24-hour race!’ You recognize that you’re tired, but you press on. For Scott and I to deliver the 1-2 finish was amazing.”

The win for Foust was his third this year, after sweeping the season opener in Phoenix in mid-May. He’s also won a number of preliminary races, either heats or semifinals, from the opening three weekends.

While it’s been a dream start for Foust, who won three races in total in 2015, he’s not taking anything for granted thus far.

“You like to be confident, optimistic and hope your team has worked harder, had better night’s rest and breakfast than others. But the fact is, even with qualifying pole on Saturday, and winning all the heats doesn’t necessarily mean there’s that great a chance of winning the race,” he explained.

“The devil is in the details. You have to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything. On Saturday, the heat and semifinals, I don’t think I finished the first corner in first position, even starting on pole. That first turn, was quite a bit of carnage going on. So you have to keep the car together, then make some passes if you could in the first lap.”

Foust said he loved the enhancements and track changes to Daytona, particularly after the road course hairpin portion of the circuit.

“Going into the dirt at such a high speed, then onto the base of the jump, braking just enough to not smash the car on the landing, it was a complicated sequence of turns. But that was awesome to have that sequence to work out every single lap,” he said.

“That turn happened, and then you had a really tricky turn leading onto the straightaway.

“The strange thing about those sequences, is that the more brave you were and the harder you pushed, the harder you get through there. The exercise is one of discipline at most tracks and you don’t want to push too hard. I think the rally guys like Sandell and myself liked the fact you could throw it in there, survive and be rewarded.”

Foust heads to MCAS New River this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, NBC) with a 32-point lead over Arpin (265-233). Speed sits third in points on 226.

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.