Indy NXT: Strong oval debut for Jamie Chadwick with P10 in Iowa
In her first ever oval race, British racing star Jamie Chadwick impressed with a Top-10 finish that is further proof of her increasing form in Indy NXT, in what is shaping up to be a very positive learning-oriented rookie season.
British racing star Jamie Chadwick enjoyed another highly positive round of the 2023 IndyNXT season - as she faced arguably one of the biggest challenges of this rookie campaign Stateside: her first ever oval race. Chadwick is clearly on a positive trend after scoring her first top ten finish of the season last time out at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, where the driver of the #28 Andretti Autosport DHL Dallara had a breakthrough weekend after showing huge improvements session after session. After focusing on learning the machinery - a significantly more powerful car compared to the Formula Regional cars she had previously raced - and the American circuits, Chadwick marginally missed out on her first top 10 at Barber Motorsports Park, second round of the season. While results do not necessarily reflect the progression, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course was another big step in the right direction for Chadwick, who had a very strong second half of the race, showing fast pace and good overtakes. Only four rounds in, Chadwick was already closing in and battling within the top ten; at the Detroit street circuit, Jamie had a very strong run in race 1 where she ran in ninth place until a few laps to go, eventually finishing P11. Unfortunately, she was crashed out on the first lap of race 2, in what could have potentially been a further improvement. The limited track time in Indycar's stepping stone - which often features a single practice session, a 20 minute qualifying and a single race - meant that Chadwick's potential was often evident in the closing stages of the races, as she built up speed across the weekend. At Mid Ohio - a track where Jamie had tested before - the British driver made progress in qualifying and started to capitalize on her pace with the first top-ten. While her first oval experience at Iowa Speedway was a whole different challenge, she carried momentum, in yet another promising performance that gives hope for an even stronger second half of the season. Chadwick was 12th fastest in practice, then recorded a 159.076 mph average speed over two laps that put the #28 DHL sponsored machine in P13 on the starting grid for the Indy NXT by Firestone at Iowa Speedway, one of the two oval races on the 2023 calendar. Jacob Abel took his maiden pole position in the series. Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports) took the lead on lap 2 and never looked back, extending his lead once Abel dropped down to fourth. From P13 Chadwick took a cautious start, mainly targeting a learning race. While she fell to P15 on the first lap, she immediately recovered her starting position and chased Jagger Jones closely. Jamie was waster than the Cape Motorsports driver throughout the race but studied her rival as she tried to find a way past him without taking too many risks on the outside line. Traffic was in fact becoming a crucial factor, as the short track quickly meant that the leaders navigated through lapped traffic: Chadwick went one lap down on lap 25, with leader Rasmussen forcing her high on the marbles; with a good save, Jamie quickly caught up again with Jones. She would make a move stick on lap 55, moving up to 12th. Soon after, the only full course yellow of the race neutralized the action, when a battle between McElrea, Abel and Siegel ended in the latter picking up suspension damage and retiring from the race. At the restart, Chadwick gained a position on Christian Bogle and moved into the top ten with 10 laps to go; Rasmussen's big margin had been deleted and Jacob Abel tried to charge back and challenge the Danish driver. Rasmussen, though, held off the attacks and took victory and the lead in the championship standings, capitalizing from Siegel's DNF. "We ran all the laps - so our first oval experience is done", commented Chadwick, tenth across the line. "It was tricky. Physically it was a tough race as well so happy to get through it. We hung in there, but have some work to do before World Wide Technology Raceway." With yet another strong result under her belt - and on the unfamiliar territory of oval racing - Chadwick will now tackle another street circuit next, in Nashville. Her strong run at Detroit could be a promising sign, before the series returns to the Indianapolis road course. Indy NXT will hit the track for the ninth round of the season on August 6th.