Sarah Fisher sets pace in Indiana Bicenentennial Torch Relay — and does it in an Indy car

Fisher with author John Green earlier this year. Photo: IndyCar
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Sarah Fisher was back behind the wheel at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday.

The former IndyCar driver turned team owner and one of the lead pace car drivers for the Verizon IndyCar Series set the pace during the final day of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay.

But instead of running with the torch like most other relay entrants, Fisher did it in perhaps the coolest fashion ever seen in similar relays: she had the torch attached to an Indy car and took a few laps around IMS.

Also taking part in the torch relay was NHRA Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas, who had the torch affixed in a slow-speed ceremonial pass at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana. Because he was racing this weekend at Dallas, Lucas did his torch ride two weeks ago.

The relay, which celebrates Indiana’s 200th year as a state, began on Sept. 9 and covered over 3,200 miles across the Hoosier State and each of its 92 counties.

Saturday was the final day and leg of the relay through Marion County (including the greater Indianapolis area) and – quite fittingly, given Fisher led the final 33 individuals that took part in the relay – began with a ceremony at IMS.

The torch was slated to travel a total of 51 miles – including its laps around the 2.5-mile track at IMS – Saturday before finishing at the Indiana Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis.

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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.