Pato O’Ward confirmed as returning to Arrow McLaren SP next season in IndyCar

Pato O'Ward returning McLaren
John Cote/IndyCar
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A day after announcing Oliver Askew would be leaving the team next season, Arrow McLaren SP confirmed that teammate Pato O’Ward will be returning in its No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet for the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series.

In his first full IndyCar season, O’Ward is ranked fifth in the points standings with three podium finishes. He was a serious contender at Road America (where he started on the pole position and led 43 laps in the July 12 race) and World Wide Technology Raceway (where he led 130 laps across the Aug. 29-30 doubleheader and notched consecutive top-four finishes).

With a sixth place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, O’Ward, 21, also was named the top rooke in the Indy 500.

“I am beyond excited to be racing with Arrow McLaren SP next season to build on what we have accomplished so far this year. Such a great group of people who truly have welcomed me like a second family,” O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion, said in a release. “Given how much change I have seen in my career to this point, it is invaluable to get the opportunity to put down roots and build on a foundation year over year.”

“The entire team and I are thrilled to have Pato back in the car next year,” Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt said in a release. “He has shown incredible form this year and has kept himself in the championship hunt all season long. I think he has the potential to compete at the highest level in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for a long time.”

As it said in Monday’s release, the team will announce its full lineup for next year “in due course.”

After being replaced by Helio Castroneves at the Harvest Grand Prix Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Askew will race for Arrow McLaren SP in the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida. An IndyCar spokesperson said Tuesday that Askew, who has suffered from concussion symptoms, has yet to be cleared but remains on track to receive approval before next weekend.

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.