Wayne Taylor Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wayne Taylor Racing rebounded from a penalty Sunday to defend its Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona championship, winning the prestigious sports car event for the fourth time.

Kamui Kobayashi drove the No. 10 Cadillac for the race’s final three hours, winning by more than a minute over the No. 77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis (who had started from the pole position in the 58th running of the endurance racing classic) in a record-breaking finish.

The winning entry completed 833 laps, smashing the previous lap record of 808 set in 2018. There were six caution flags as the smallest field (38 cars) in the race’s 59-year history set a blistering pace (particularly during a seven-hour green-flag run for seven hours overnight).

Kobayashi was teamed in the race for the second consecutive year with Renger van der Zande, and they were joined this year by five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and new full-time driver Ryan Briscoe.

It was the third Rolex 24 win in the past four years for Wayne Taylor Racing, but it seemed in doubt when Briscoe committed a pit violation with five and a half hours remaining by missing a red light at the end of the pits during the race’s fourth caution. After serving a 60-second penalty, Briscoe fell from first to fourth, handing the lead to the No. 5 Cadillac.

But a fifth yellow put the car back on the lead lap, and Briscoe charged back to second on the 3.56-mile road course. He retook the lead during a pit stop, and Kobayashi drove it to victory lane.

The victory put team owner Wayne Taylor two short of Chip Ganassi’s record of six Rolex 24 overall wins. Taylor, who also won the race twice as a driver, was campaigning a car at Daytona without sons Jordan and Ricky for the first time in a decade.

“There are so many people — this team, the drivers — when they come into this little team of ours, they are so focused and so passionate about winning and fortunately we are really bad losers,” Taylor said. “I got to talk about Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi. I mean the guy is a superstar.

“I am so relieved, that’s the best way I can say it.”

In one of the race’s rare incidents, the No. 7 Acura of Team Penske was eliminated from contention when Harry Tincknell spun Helio Castroneves into a tire barrier in the Bus Stop section. Castroneves was steaming after the wreck, which occurred barely four hours into the race.

Through his AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing team struggled with a brake problem on its GTD entry, Kyle Busch was pleased by his Rolex 24 debut. The two-time NASCAR Cup champion finished the race in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3. It was his fourth turn behind the wheel, which included a triple-stint Sunday morning.

“It’s all fun,” Busch said in an interview on the NASCAR on NBC Peacock Pit Box. “I try to relish in the moment, have some fun it with. Just go out there and enjoy. Obviously we’re not racing for a class victory. so that’s a shame. but for what we are doing, we got a job to do, and that’s to go out there and run hard, race hard. I’ve pretty much given it everything I’ve got about every lap I’ve been out there. I’ve been putting up some decent times compared to (veteran teammate) Jack Hawksworth.”

Here were the winners in the other divisions:

LMP2: No. 81 ORECA LMP2 of DragonSpeed USA

GTLM: No. 24 BMW M8 GTE of BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

GTD: No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Paul Miller Racing

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.