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Jamie Chadwick claims personal best in IndyNXT at Nashville

"We knew we had to get it done and get up the field to get a result. We fought all the way through it; picked off the chaos and picked off a few others" - With an outstanding performance at Nashville, Jamie Chadwick made her way from P17 to P8, claiming her best result of the season so far and her third consecutive top ten finish in IndyNXT - on a streak that includes a road course, an oval and a street circuit.

Jamie Chadwick (Andretti Autosport) racing through the streets of Nashville for the 2023 IndyNXT Music Grand Prix
Photo credits: Penske Entertainment / Travis Hinkle

One of the most common criticisms coming from sceptics of the all-female championship W Series was that its three-time deserving champion had failed to progress. If Chadwick's rookie season in IndyNXT isn't seen as a progression – nothing else is.

A significant step forward in machinery – from the 270HP Formula Regional to the approx 450HP Dallara IL-15 – as well as a move to the closest stepping stone to IndyCar was always going to represent a challenge for any driver, even more so with no prior experience of any circuit on the calendar. Yet, Chadwick adapted step by step, learned the car and grew confident in both qualifying and in battles, in a series that returned to a very healthy number of entries and with some of the most promising talents on the Road to Indy ladder.

She would soon knock on the doors of the top ten, with a couple of 11th place finishes - as well as a few rounds eventually hindered by contacts from other drivers, which resulted in more lonely runs that prevented the British racer from building experience in the pack.

Nevertheless, Jamie was patient and made the most out of each situation, always building on the positives. At Detroit – a very tricky street circuit – Chadwick showed big steps forward and battled solidly in the top ten for the first time. Her first tenth place came at Mid Ohio - a track where she had tested before - which marked the start of a very positive streak.

Next up was Iowa Speedway, Jamie's first ever racing experience of oval circuits. The driver of the #28 DHL Andretti Autosport machine approached the weekend as a big learning opportunity but soon found pace and, once in clean air, she was able to catch the cars ahead and completed clean passes. Another top-10 in her first oval race was a seriously impressive result.

Jamie carried momentum into the extremely challenging Nashville street circuit – which has traditionally featured accident-filled races since its debut on the calendar. With two practice sessions scheduled for the Firestone Music City Grand Prix, Chadwick was straight into the top 10 in FP1 – then improved by half a second in the second session, in a disrupted day for rain showers.

Weather conditions, in fact, proved to be Jamie's main rival: heavy rain on Saturday forced the delay of the whole Indycar program and eventually the cancellation of the IndyNXT qualifying. Chances of starting within the top 10 faded, as the starting grid was set on championship points: Jamie would line up in P17, on a track where every overtake means taking risks.

"It’s been an interesting experience here in Nashville", Jamie said. "Straight out of the box, I really enjoyed the circuit in practice. But we knew the weather was going to be a bit of a threat – which it obviously was in qualifying with that being canceled."

"It was a bit of a shame because we did have really good opportunity to perform well here."

Jamie Chadwick, Andretti Autosport, drives through the streets of Nashville
Photo credits: Penske Entertainment / Joe Skibinksi

Chadwick, though, was determined to keep the streak alive and, on a finally dry Sunday, she soon started to move up the field.

At the green flag – at the second attempt, after a first lap under yellow – Chadwick had a clean getaway and found her way up into P16 in the busy field, as Christian Rasmussen took the lead and checked out after the first few laps, preceding Hunter McElrea and Jacob Abel – who soon was under pressure from Louis Foster.

After passing Christian Bogle at the start, Chadwick made one more position on the returning Victor Franzoni on lap 5, then continued to chase Josh Pierson while keeping Bogle at bay. Reece Gold dropped down the order and had to defend from Pierson, as Chadwick also joined the group of battling cars. When Matthew Brabham went for a move on Kyffin Simpson and went deep, Chadwick claimed two positions, having also passed Pierson to advance to P13.

Bogle hit the wall and damaged his front wing on lap 18; the caution was deployed, neutralizing the race just as Chadwick was starting to show good pace in clean air.

At the restart on lap 21, Rasmussen was unchallenged and soon pulled away once again from McElrea and Foster – who had meanwhile passed Abel for third with light contact.

Jamie battled with Reece Gold and eventually made a move stick one lap later. As she started to hunt down Jagger Jones, another caution freezed the action with 11 laps to go: Ernie Francis Jr had crashed while battling for fifth place. Rasmussen controlled the restart once again – and Chadwick snatched tenth place from Jones.

Jamie was on a mission and climbed further up when Danial Frost was hit by Rasmus Lindh, bringing out the third caution of the race. The restart was wild – and Foster dropped from fourth to eleventh after contact. Jamie Chadwick kept her cool and made up places; while Foster was back ahead with two laps to go, Jamie fought her way from P17 and crossed the finish line after 35 laps in an impressive eighth place.

Despite qualifying being rained-out, the British driver continued her extraordinary trajectory with her third consecutive top-ten finish – and her best result of the season so far.

Jamie has now finished in the top-10 on a road course, an oval and a street circuit – which clearly shows the magnitude of her progression from the start of the season.

"Starting 17th in the race, it was a fun race", Chadwick commented after the weekend.

"We knew we had to get it done and get up the field to get a result. We fought all the way through it; picked off the chaos and picked off a few others. I’m happy to get my best result now. It was a good weekend."

Championship leader Christian Rasmussen won from pole, securing his second consecutive victory, extending his lead in the drivers' standings to 45 points over Nolan Siegel.

Chadwick has moved from 17th to 14th in the points' standings, with five races now to go.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is set to host the next round in just a few day's time, with drivers returning to the Road Course layout after the Firestone Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May.

Jamie Chadwick's DHL Andretti Autosport car at the Nashville Music Grand Prix
Photo credits: Penske Entertainment / Travis Hinkle



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