Rahal nips Rossi for top spot in opening practice at Watkins Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal went quickest in opening practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen (1:30 p.m., NBCSN), nipping Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi as on his final lap as Rossi spent most of the session at the top of the speed charts.

Rahal’s quick lap of 1:23.2603 bettered Rossi’s 1:23.4686 by two tenths of a second. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton and Scott Dixon ended up third and fourth, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe in fifth, making it a top five sweep for Honda in the opening practice.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot was the quickest Chevrolet in sixth. Championship leader Josef Newgarden was ninth, with teammates and fellow title combatants Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves ending up 10th and 11th respectively.

The session saw no stoppages, although a few drivers had minor incidents. Alexander Rossi had a minor off in the bus stop chicane that saw him run slightly wide into the runoff area, while James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay had quick spins of their. However, none made any wall contact and all three quickly regrouped and continued on.

Also of note: Jack Harvey, on his debut with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, ended up 20th.

Times are below. Second practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series begins at 3:05 p.m. ET.

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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.