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  • Writer's pictureVIVIEN STREBELOW

Chadwick shows speed at Barber, Brewer makes improvements over the weekend

"Pretty unfortunate, but the car was strong and we kept good pace this weekend, so I can be happy with that" – The Indy NXT event at Barber Motorsports Park saw a very quick Jamie Chadwick a handful of laps away from equalling her best result in the series, after a tiny mistake cost her a sixth place. Lindsay Brewer is progressively closing the gaps and completed another race in the highly competitive Indy NXT championship, as she aims to collect experience and mileage.

Jamie Chadwick, Andretti Autosport, Indy NXT, 2024 Barber Motorsports Park
Photo by Penske Entertainment: Karl Zemlin

The Indy NXT paddock headed to Barber Motorsports Park - the track that scares away anyone with arachnophobia -  for the second round of the 2024 season. And hopes were high for Jamie Chadwick, who enjoyed one of her best races in the series to date, with a realistic chance of a top five - as well as for Lindsay Brewer, who tackled the event aiming to collect more mileage and points.

British ace Jamie Chadwick had an unlucky start of the season, with a contact with no fault of her own to ruin her season opener at St Petersburg - but the Andretti Autosport driver, now into her second season in the series, had shown a huge step forward already at the Florida street circuit. That speed was carried onto Barber Motorsports Park, with a remarkable practice session where she proved that she would be in contention for a front-running position in the second round.

“In my opinion, Barber is one of the best tracks on the calendar", Chadwick commented before the event. "The style of it is more European, combined with qualities from some UK tracks with the amazing undulation and high-speed corners", she explained. Chadwick had a positive run last year at the GP of Alabama, where she was close to her first top-ten.

"Qualifying is key here, so I’m just looking forward to doing that perfect lap and setting us up well for the weekend.”

And indeed the one-lap pace was on point, as she was sixth and third fastest in the opening practice session.

Meanwhile, American driver Lindsay Brewer is progressively getting up to speed with the massively demanding Indy NXT Dallara - a big step forward after having contested the Indy Pro 2000 in 2023. Nevertheless, Brewer is improving after every session and, at the wheel of her black-green Juncos Hollinger Racing car, the Colorado-native had a big progression throughout the weekend, significantly closing the gaps to the cars ahead.

Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) was fastest in both sessions and set a high bar for all other drivers. Both sessions were interrupted by multiple red flags, which made it difficult to set clean laps over the opening day. James Roe Jr. (Andretti Global) and Nolan Siegel (HMD Motorsports) were the closest to Abel, respectively in practice 1 and 2.

It wasn´t therefore a big surprise that practice dominator Abel snatched the pole position for Sunday's race, dominating the faster second qualifying group - which also featured Jamie Chadwick and Lindsay Brewer.

Group 2 also had some different conditions to group 1, with a cloudier and cooler track; nevertheless, nothing could stop Abel to snatch his second career pole in Indy NXT. Jamie Chadwick ran fourth fastest for most of the session and, with most drivers improving on the very final attempt, she needed an improvement to get the chance to qualify on the front rows. And that's just what she did: with a stellar final lap, Chadwick clocked a 1:11.7240 which put her P3, just three tenths from overall pole position.

On aggregate results, she would start from fifth place on the grid - in her best ever qualifying in the series to date.

"I’m happy with our results today", Jamie said. "I think where we are on the grid is better than I've ever been. I still think there was a lot left in the car, so I think we could have gone a little bit better. I’m a bit frustrated actually, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow and it's nice to be starting closer to the front."

Lindsay Brewer clocked a 1:14.8969, having improved by a full two seconds from the first practice session. With Louis Foster out of the session for a technical issue, Brewer would get away from P19. 

Lindsay Brewer, Juncos Hollinger Racing, Indy NXT 2024, Barber Motorsports Park
Photo by Penske Entertainment / Chris Jones

The race was dominated once again by Jacob Abel, who led the field from pole position followed by Nolan Siegel. Both of them spent most of the race battling for the win, significantly ahead of the rest of the pack.

Their duel was interrupted early on by a caution when Yuven Sundaramoorthy stopped on track due to technical issues; he later rejoined the field with a gap of three laps, once his pit crew seemed to have solved the issue. From there, it was an overall quiet race on the surface, although there were plenty of tense pursuits.

At the restart, Abel and Siegel pulled away once again and the former led every lap; Siegel in fact managed to get closer in the final stages, but couldn't make any move. James Roe Jr. joined the leading pack shortly, but was quickly caught from Caio Collet (HMD Motorsports) and had to defend third place. 

Jamie Chadwick, Andretti Autosport, Indy NXT, 2024 Barber Motorsports Park
Photo by Penske Entertainment / Karl Zemlin

But arguably one of the protagonists of the race was Jamie Chadwick, whose fifth qualifying place put her in a premium position to top her personal best in the series. Jamie had a brilliant start – but the yellow flag was immediately out and the race effectively went green one lap later: in the second start, Jamie lost fifth but settled into sixth place, on the same pace as the cars around her.

From there, she ran a spectacular race in sixth, setting very competitive laps throughout the contest. She survived the restart on lap 6 and once again settled in her rhythm, approximately one second clear of the closest rival. Behind her, though, Andretti Autosport teammate Louis Foster was charging through the field: from last on the grid, the Briton had leapfrogged most of the grid and was now hunting down Chadwick. Jamie, on the other hand, was perfect in her defense and, while continuing to run on competitive laps, she never gave an opportunity to her teammate, who had to slot behind.

Despite being under pressure for the entire race, Chadwick held on brilliantly and with 10 laps to go, she could also extend the gap from Foster to over a second for the first time.

With a handful of laps to go, Chadwick caught Bryce Aron ahead; that was the moment Foster was looking for and seized the opportunity to pass Chadwick – who lost out also to Rowe.

Jamie was faster and, on the penultimate lap, she went for a move at turn one on Rowe that unfortunately resulted in the driver of the #28 Andretti Autosport machine clipping the inside kerb and spinning into the run-off. Beached in the gravel, it was an extremely unfortunate end to an otherwise widely posite race for Chadwick, whose results at the start of the season clearly don't represent the step forward made in her second campaign.

"Super disappointed today", she commented. "We were having a decent race and were on track for some good points, but I just clipped the curb at the end trying to pass and it sent me into a spin."

"Pretty unfortunate, but the car was strong and we kept good pace this weekend, so I can be happy with that", she concluded.

Lindsay Brewer had a solid albeit rather quiet race: from 19th on the grid, she picked up one position when Pierson went off in the gravel on the second lap and then moved ahead of Sundaramoorthy when the latter hit trouble and went three laps down. She continued to improve her lap times consistently and ran a best lap of 1:15.2977, almost on par with her qualifying pace. Despite the almost caution-free race meant that she couldn't quite catch up with the cars ahead, she completed every lap, survived a trip to the grass and brought home a P19 finish in the second round of the championship, bagging more points after a top-15 on debut at St. Petersburg.

The next Indy NXT weekend will be a double header at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from 10th to 11th May.

Photo by Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski



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