IndyCar: Pocono race resumes after bad crash puts Robert Wickens in hospital

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UPDATE 6 (4:30 p.m. ET): After a roughly two-hour red flag race stoppage, the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway has resumed on Lap 13 of the scheduled 200-lap event.

UPDATE 5 (4:24 p.m. ET): Engines have refired and drivers have begun driving back onto the racetrack. IndyCar Race Control said there will be four laps around the track before the green flag falls again for the third time today. Alexander Rossi is scored in the lead, followed by Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Zach Veach, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti.

UPDATE 4 (4:20 p.m. ET): Drivers have climbed back in their cars. The race is expected to restart in the next 5-10 minutes, according to IndyCar Race Control.

UPDATE 3 (3:05 p.m. ET): According to a report, James Hinchcliffe has apparently left the racetrack and is headed to the hospital to be with Robert Wickens, his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate and best friend. Hinchcliffe declined to be interviewed on NBCSN about the circumstances of the crash that involved Wickens, Hinchcliffe and three other drivers.

UPDATE 2 (2:53 p.m. ET): IndyCar officials say the repairs to the catchfence will take at least another 30 minutes. Also, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Pietro Fittipaldi have all been cleared and released from the infield medical care center.

UPDATE 1 (3:20 p.m. ET): Curt Cavin, IndyCar Vice President of Communications, has spoken to media and said this:

“Robert Wickens was awake and alert when he came here (infield medical center) and is being transported to Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown (Pa.) for evaluation. We’ll have more updates later. That’s where we stand.”

Original story follows:

A major crash involving Robert Wickens, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Pietro Fittipaldi has caused a stoppage of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Contact was made on Lap 8 of the scheduled 200 laps when, shortly after a restart and coming out of Turn 2, Wickens and Hunter-Reay touched wheels. Wickens’ car climbed and went up into the fence and spun several times in mid-air before coming to rest against the inside retaining wall.

Hinchcliffe then hit Wickens’ car as it came back onto the track.

It took safety crews about 12 minutes to extricate Wickens from his damaged vehicle. He was then taken by ambulance and transported into the infield care center in the paddock area, where he subsequently was put into a helicopter to take him to a local hospital.

The fence incurred major damage that will take a lengthy period of time — IndyCar officials said it will take at least an hour in duration — and rain is approaching the area, as well.

Hinchcliffe exited his car under his own power but was seen holding his wrists and walking gingerly to a safety vehicle.

Fittipaldi appeared uninjured, as did Hunter-Reay and Sato.

“I’m okay, just thinking about Robert,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “It’s unfortunate but I just hope Robert is okay. I started pulling ahead and once we got to (Turn) 2 … I thought I had got past him.”

Added Sato to NBCSN, “It’s just unfortunate. My helmet was completely covered in oil and I couldn’t see anything. … It’s just a real pity.”

“He’s fine, he didn’t hit that hard,” team owner Michael Andretti said of Hunter-Reay to NBCSN. “I think Robert should have backed out of it. He was only halfway on Ryan’s side. … He was in Ryan’s blind spot so Ryan didn’t see him.”

It was the second wreck of the race. Graham Rahal and Spencer Pigot tangled as the field was coming to the green flag start of the race. The ensuing clean-up took seven laps to clean.

Several fellow race car drivers and fans took to social media out of concern for Wickens:

We’ll continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

 

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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.