Rossi, Milless gelling early together at Andretti

Jeremy Milless. Photo: IndyCar
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AVONDALE, Ariz. – This time last year, Alexander Rossi wasn’t even fully confirmed for any full-time ride, although by the end of February he’d been signed to a new Andretti-Herta Autosport entry ahead of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Ahead of the 2017 season, not only has he been signed for several months following his win in the 100th Indianapolis 500, but he has three exciting new elements for his program surrounding his No. 98 Honda this season.

The 25-year-old Californian has NAPA AUTO PARTS sponsorship for seven races, building on the relationship established at Indianapolis last year.

But on the box, he has a new engineer in Jeremy Milless and a new strategist in Rob Edwards.

Milless, who spent the last three years as Josef Newgarden’s engineer at Ed Carpenter Racing, switches to Michael Andretti’s team this year and replaces Tom German as Rossi’s race engineer.

Meanwhile with Bryan Herta moving to become race strategist for Marco Andretti’s No. 27 hhgregg Honda, even though the No. 98 car is still an Andretti-Herta entry, Andretti Autosport chief operating officer Rob Edwards now moves from what was the No. 26 car for Carlos Munoz to Rossi’s No. 98 as strategist there.

Milless’ strengths last year were evident at a number of circuits.  In particular, Milless helped Newgarden deliver on short ovals, with Newgarden’s beatdown in Newton, Iowa where he led 282 of 300 laps standing out.

Rossi has only had a couple tests to work with Milless thus far, but has already praised his new men on the stand.

“I’m pretty excited about Iowa,” Rossi said. “I think we all are, to kind of have that bit of information.

“But no, Jeremy has been awesome from day one of working with him at the one Sebring test we did, we were kind of up to speed with each other right away, and we’ve done some work in Indy together. I mean, it’s been a pretty seamless transition. We’re still kind of trying to learn each other’s likes and dislikes, but (it’s) the first session and it wasn’t terrible.

“It’s been a real positive having Rob Edwards as strategist on the radio; that’s also fantastic,” he added. “If Bryan is going to go to Marco, I think Rob is probably the best replacement in the year.

“I’m really happy with the team I have right now, and hopefully we can continue to move forward and develop ourselves.”

Rossi missed driving at this test last year as he’d only just finalized the deal to join the Andretti-Herta organization. He made his first oval race start here and was poised for a debut top-10 finish, prior to a puncture and a slip up the course in Turn 4.

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.