Jamie Chadwick achieves career best Indy NXT finish in Portland
Jamie Chadwick built upon the momentum she has created in recent weeks to charge through from 16th on the grid to achieve her best ever finish in Indy NXT – a sixth place in Portland, as she closes in on a top-10 championship position.
Scoring a sixth place result at Portland, Jamie Chadwick has secured her best ever finish in Indy NXT. Driving for Andretti Autosport, Chadwick built upon the momentum she has created in recent weeks to charge through from 16th on the grid to achieve a superb result and close in on a top-10 championship position.
With a double header to come at Laguna Seca next weekend, Jamie will be aiming to replicate this impressive performance which saw her chase down championship leader Christian Rasmussen in the closing stages.
Jamie has consistently made progress throughout the 2023 Indy NXT season and with four top-10 finishes in her last five races, the Andretti Autosport driver was aiming to build upon these performances to close her out rookie season in the championship.
"This weekend will be my first time in Portland and I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do there", Jamie said before the weekend. "It's a track that seems to promote good racing, so it will be exciting to get out there myself and experience it. Hopefully we can build off the momentum we’ve had the past few races and bring that into this weekend for a strong finish."
The weekend at Portland began with a single practice session on Friday with Chadwick making consistent improvements throughout the session. With her best time coming on the final lap of the session, Jamie’s fastest time placed her 14th.
Jamie completed a further 26 laps in practice two on Saturday morning, with Chadwick finding seven tenths of a second from the opening session, setting the 13th fastest time and within a second of Andretti Autosport teammate and pacesetter Louis Foster. Times were extremely close throughout the field and small margins were set to make a significant difference ahead of qualifying.
Qualifying took place later on Saturday afternoon and with just eight minutes in which to set a fast time, execution would be key. Jamie ran a number of consistent laps throughout the session which resulted in a 16th place starting position. The competition remained tight despite the short session with Chadwick just four tenths of a second away from a third row grid spot.
"We struggled to get the tires to work for us and it took up some time during the session", a disappointed Jamie commented. "Although, tomorrow’s a new day and hopefully we can make some progress."
Lining up from the eighth row of the grid, Jamie knew that keeping the car clean on the opening lap would be vital to a successful race. Turn one at Portland has seen a number of incidents in recent years and once again contact was made at the front of the field. Chadwick’s smart driving allowed her to avoid contact and escape an action-packed opening lap in sixth position, gaining ten positions, as the full course yellow was displayed.
When racing resumed after a lengthy cleanup, Jamie was overtaken by championship leader Christian Rasmussen with Chadwick settling in behind the Danish driver. From there, the Andretti Autosport racer fought off the challenge of Ernie Francis Jr, with her rival running just a quarter of a second behind at the end of the tenth lap. As the race progressed, Jamie settled into her rhythm and began to build a gap to her rival, extending her advantage over Francis Jr to over a second by lap 13.
By the halfway mark, Chadwick ran solidly in seventh and her pace was comparable to the drivers ahead of her as she closed in on Rasmussen for sixth. An off-track moment for Jagger Jones on lap 29 elevated Jamie one position and with fourth place runner Christian Bogle picking up front-wing damage, a top-5 result was within reach.
On lap 32, Chadwick ran her fastest lap of the race to underline her speed and had cut the gap to Rasmussen to just half a second at the beginning of the final lap. Consistently applying pressure to her rival, Jamie ended the race in sixth to claim her best ever finish in Indy NXT, finishing less than two seconds away from fourth.
"I think staying out of trouble was the name of that one", Jamie explained.
"In Lap 1 I thought I was going to get caught in the traffic, but I was amazed at how I was able to come out of the chaos. From there, I just stayed in it and I think we had some good pace at the end."
"I'm happy with my result today and am ready to get out to Laguna", she concluded.
Jamie displayed excellent speed throughout the weekend in achieving a career best finish, with her race pace comparable to championship contenders. Racing smartly in the opening exchanges laid the foundations for an excellent sixth place finish, with the Andretti Autosport driver showing great maturity in her rookie Indy NXT season.
Chadwick will be aiming to end the year on a high and push towards a top-10 overall championship finish with a double header to come at Laguna Seca next weekend to close out the year.