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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, has at last parlayed her success in the all-women series into a bigger ride.
The British racer on Thursday was selected the driver for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season. Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.
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 in 13 years to compete fulltime 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.
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 flipside 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 is also 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."
Andretti next season will field two drivers it developed in Indy NXT in its IndyCar program: 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 fulltime female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.