Penske, Menards announce extension for 10 IndyCar races in 2017

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Team Penske and Menards have announced an extension of their partnership for 10 races in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, including the 101st Indianapolis 500.

Menards’ luminous yellow livery graced Simon Pagenaud’s no. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet for the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, starting what initially was set to be a three-race deal.

The partnership eventually expanded to five races as Pagenaud raced in Menards’ colors for Road America, Iowa and Pocono, and will do so a further 10 times in 2017 after a long-term deal was announced.

Here’s the release from Penske on the deal:

Team Penske announced today that it has reached a partnership extension with industry-leading home improvement store company Menards for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season and beyond.

The easily-identifiable bright yellow paint scheme of Menards will continue to shine on track with 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship contender Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Dallara/Chevrolet for 10 races in 2017, including the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28.

“Partnering Menards with our Verizon IndyCar Series program just makes sense. The company’s deep Midwest roots are a perfect fit with the IndyCar fan base,” said Roger Penske, whose team will prepare to clinch its 14th IndyCar Series Championship this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

“Menards is a great example of a partner that is completely engaged with our program at Team Penske. They not only make the most of our partnership by building brand awareness, Menards also helps market and promote the series, as well as our other team partners. We are excited to continue to build with them for the future.”

The partnership between Team Penske and Menards began in 2016. The relationship started out with Menards serving as a primary sponsor on the No. 22 Team Penske Chevy for three races before it grew to a total of five races this season.

In 2017, Menards will continue to enhance its presence with primary sponsorship on the No. 22 car with Pagenaud at 10 races, focusing on events and areas where the company has strong marketing presence.

“Menards is an institution in the Midwest and it’s an honor to represent them,” said Pagenaud, who carries a 43-point lead in the series championship over teammate Will Power into the final race of the season at Sonoma on Sunday.

“Every time I walk into one of their stores I’m amazed. There’s nothing you can’t find there. More importantly, though, is the friendly atmosphere the store associates create. Everyone at Team Penske is looking forward to growing with Menards next year and into the future.”

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.