Indy NXT: Early contact hampers Jamie Chadwick's chances at Barber
A first lap contact took Jamie Chadwick out of contention for a better result, but an eventful race in Alabama, second round of the 2023 Indy NXT season, still resulted in a P11 finish for the British driver, who got to complete the race despite a damaged car.
The second event of the IndyNXT season took place at the Barber Motorsports Park, in support of the Indycar Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama. Among the drivers on the grid of the top American feeder series is British driver and three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick (Andretti Autosport), who made her debut last time out on the streets of St Petersburg and is contesting a learning-oriented season, adapting to the Dallara IL-15 and at her first year of familiarization with the US racetracks. In the two practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning, Nolan Siegel (HMD Motorsports) was fastest overall, as Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports) set the early pace on Friday but then ended second on the leaderboard. Jamie Chadwick, collecting experience lap after lap, set the 17th best lap time, with a gap of merely a little over one second to the leader. In a short qualifying session on Saturday, Rasmussen claimed pole position, with a new official lap time record of 1:10.7371, ahead of Siegel and Louis Foster (Andretti Autosport). As times dropped fast towards the end of the session, Jamie Chadwicks ended her run in 17th position ahead of Sunday's race. "It’s a physical rollercoaster of a track but we’re doing everything we can and will fight from P17 tomorrow", Chadwick commented. Rasmussen was unchallenged at the race start and led in style from pole, pulling away from Siegel. Ahead of Ernie Francis Jr at the start, Chadwick got by Christian Bogle at turn 1 when the latter ran off track; re-entering the track, though, the three went 3-wide at turn and Francis Jr ended making quite heavy contact with Chadwick. The incident caused damage to the DHL-sponsored car and Chadwick had to pit to fix a bent front suspension. Needing mileage to continue her progression, Chadwick was sent back out on track albeit 3 laps down. From then on, her race effectively became a test session. Matteo Nannini (Juncos Racing) and Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) made contact, requiring the intervention of the Safety Car for the first time in the race. The race went back to green on lap 19, with Rasmussen pulling away easily once again from Siegel, who wasn't under pressure until the second Safety Car was brought out due to a collision with the barriers for Foster, who had run wide on lap 25. With five laps to go, the race went back underway and Rasmussen won untroubled ahead of Siegel and Toby Sowery (HMD Motorsports). Jamie Chadwick's early accident compromised her chances to battle with the pack, and the British driver crossed the finish line in P11 - recording her best finish of the season to date. "I'm a bit disappointed", Chadwick commented. "We got into a tangle in Turn 1, so ended up being in a race of my own."
"It's another distance done and we were able to pick up the pieces to be efficient out there with the No.28 DHL Dallara. We'll live to fight another day." With only one race per weekend on the IndyNXT schedule, a mistake for another driver unfortunately cost Chadwick the opportunity to show her progression from her debut round. The next round will take place from 11th to 13th May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Jamie Chadwick will resume her journey in the Road to Indy ladder series on a track where she has previously completed a collective test session.