MRTI: Team Pelfrey adds two USF2000 cars for Monterey

Photo: Team Pelfrey
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Team Pelfrey isn’t just adding an extra Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires car for the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca season finale weekend, but it is also bringing two of its Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda cars back to action for the first time in months.

The team brings up two of its F1600 aces, Phillippe Denes and Kaylen Frederick, for their USF2000 – and Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires – series debuts. Both have won races in F1600 this weekend and gain the USF2000 seat time in advance of the F1600 final race weekend of the year, in October.

Denes will be in the team’s No. 82 entry with Frederick in the No. 81 Pilot One Racing car. It gives teenaged rookie Robert Megennis two new teammates to work with after Megennis has been going it alone since Lucas Oil Raceway back in May.

“I am beyond excited to be racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with my second family [Team Pelfrey],” Denes said. “It’s been an honor to progress with such a great team and I’m looking forward to progressing even more and preparing for next year.”

Added Frederick, “After 2 solid days of testing and progress at Roebling Road, I’m super psyched for my first MRTI races with Team Pelfrey in USF2000 at Mazda Raceway next week.  Coming from F1600 races, this will be a step that I’ve been anxious to climb all year long. The USF2000 car is fast, and I like fast.”

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.