James Hinchcliffe will step away from full-time racing in IndyCar next season

IndyCar James Hinchcliffe leaving
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James Hinchcliffe, one of the most popular drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series, said Tuesday he is leaving full-time racing on the circuit.

The 34-year-old Canadian said he is not retiring and will explore other types of racing. Andretti Autosport did not renew his contract for next year.

“With a decade-plus of incredible memories in the bank, I am happy to announce I am stepping away from full-time IndyCar competition,” Hinchcliffe posted on social media. “This was not a decision taken lightly and it was one made with the full support of my family and closest supporters. There were many factors, both personal and professional, that led me to this decision but it truly felt like the time was right.”

Hinchcliffe had a rough season in his return to Andretti this past year and scored just one podium finish, a third on the street course at Nashville. His next best finish was 14th twice, at Detroit and in the Long Beach season finale.

The “Mayor of Hinchtown” is a two-time most popular driver in IndyCar and was a runner-up on the 2016 season of “Dancing with the Stars.” He’s a six-time IndyCar winner and started on the pole for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016, a year after he was nearly killed in a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He started on the front row for the Indy 500 three times in nine appearances. Hinchcliffe in 2018 failed to qualify and in 2015 watched from the hospital after a broken part from his car pierced an artery in his upper left thigh.

Hinchcliffe lost 14 pints of blood as he was rushed to the hospital following the crash during a practice session.

He made his IndyCar debut in 2011 with Newman Haas Racing, spent the next three seasons driving for Andretti, and then five years with Sam Schmidt. He was released with a year remaining on his contract after the 2019 season, and made six starts for Andretti the next year.

Hinchcliffe had a full-time ride with Andretti this season but was replaced by Devlin DeFrancesco last month. He was 20th in the series standings.

“In 2011, I realized a lifelong goal of becoming an IndyCar driver,” Hinchcliffe said. “I remember almost every minute of the journey getting there. There were many ups and many downs. Through all the challenges and uncertainty there were two constants, my unabated desire to make it in IndyCar and my family’s unwavering support. In the 11 years that followed, I lived out my dream in a way that a nine-year-old kid, sitting in a kart for the first time, could never have imagined.”

He said he does not plan to retire from racing, and the TV booth also could also be an option. He worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter during the 2020 season.

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.