Dale Coyne Racing confirms Fittipaldi, Claman DeMelo in No. 19

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The final full-time seat in the Verizon IndyCar Series has been filled. Pietro Fittipaldi, last year’s World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion, and Zachary Claman DeMelo, a race winner in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship, will split time behind the wheel of Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda, alongside veteran Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18.

Global payments provider Paysafe, which sponsored Claman DeMelo during his outing with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at last year’s season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, will serve as the primary sponsor of the entry.

Claman DeMelo will begin the season with the team at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March, while Fittipaldi, the grandson of Formula 1 world champion, IndyCar champion, and Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, will see his first race action at the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway in April and is also scheduled to race the entry at the Indianapolis 500.

In total, Fittipaldi will contest seven races, with Claman DeMelo slated for the other ten.

“Paysafe helped me attain a life ambition last September when I made my Verizon IndyCar Series debut in Sonoma,” Claman DeMelo said in a team announcement. “I am hugely grateful for their ongoing support as I prepare for the forthcoming races; I feel proud to be representing their brand again on the race track and I shall be doing all I can to get the Paysafe car into victory lane!”

Fittipaldi, meanwhile, expressed great excitement at the chance to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Emerson and uncle Christian by bringing the Fittipaldi name back to Indianapolis.

“This is a dream come true, even more so to be racing in the Indy 500, where my family already has a history of great results,” revealed the young Fittipaldi. “I want to thank the entire team at Dale Coyne Racing, along with my long-time sponsors, Escuderia Telmex and Paysafe for this massive opportunity and important step in my career. I’m very excited and proud to be racing on a world stage like the Verizon IndyCar Series this year.”

Both Fittipaldi and Claman DeMelo are in Phoenix this week for IndyCar Media Day, with Fittipaldi also set to begin testing at ISM Raceway after the team fitted his seat into the No. 19 chassis.

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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.