Jamie Chadwick improves on starting position in second career oval race
"I felt like I was finding my feet in the race, and we learned a lot which I am happy about." – Despite a shortened one-day schedule at World Wide Technology Raceway, Jamie Chadwick continued to make progress in IndyNXT, making good passes and improving on her starting position in only her second oval race of her career.
IndyNXT rookie Jamie Chadwick completed another positive round in IndyCar's top feeder series, improving on her starting position at World Wide Technology Raceway – only her second ever start on an oval – despite limited track time due to rain showers on Saturday.
Chadwick was coming off a streak of four consecutive top ten finishes, started at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course and including Iowa Speedway, Nashville street circuit and Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, in a highly encouraging second half of the season for the three-time W Series champion.
Having made a significant step up in machinery with the more powerful Dallara IL-15, Chadwick spent the first few weekends adapting to the car and to the American racetracks, all new to the British racer. Soon, she started to battle for the positions around the top ten and then secured three 10th place finishes as well as a P8 – her best result to date – at the tricky Nashville street circuit.
Aiming to carry momentum into the final race meetings, Chadwick headed to World Wide Technology Raceway for the tenth round of the 2023 season, a 1.25-mile oval that features a unique egg-shape and varying degrees of banking in each corner.
Jamie's first ever racing experience on an oval track resulted in a promising tenth place at Iowa, where she visibly improved at every lap and gained confidence over the course of the race, making good passes while staying out of trouble.
"I’m really looking forward to the second oval of the season", said Jamie before her second oval run last weekend. "I feel like I learned a lot in Iowa and Andretti had really good cars."
The Andretti team had two wins, eight podiums and 18 top-10 finishes at World Wide Technology Raceway since 2017, and tested at the track in June showing good pace.
"There’s a lot of opportunity for us to make progress", Chadwick continued. "It’s another one-day schedule so it’s a quick format which I really enjoyed. I’m ready to keep the momentum going and excited to see what we can achieve."
With the whole weekend scheduled compressed into a single-day, track time was shortened when a rainstorm hit and all sessions were put on hold. Once the rain stopped, the drivers had just one 30-minute practice session – where Chadwick logged only 19 laps before taking the green for the 75-lap race. Qualifying was in fact cancelled and starting positions set by championship standings.
In the rescheduled practice, Jamie was 11th fastest, a little over one second adrift championship leader Christian Rasmussen who topped the time sheets. A top ten would be again on the table for the driver of the #28 DHL-sponsored Andretti Autosport machine, but she would have to recover from 13th on the grid.
At the start of the night race, Rasmussen retained the lead, followed by Hunter McElrea who had a strong start but couldn't take the lead. The biggest mover was Danial Frost, gaining five positions to slot into third. From the seventh row, Chadwick had a cautious start and fell to P15, but was soon chasing Colin Kaminsky.
A close battle between Frost and Abel almost ended in a contact - and allowed Rasmussen to open a gap in the lead. After a practice crash, on the other hand, Nolan Siegel was mainly looking to bring the car home and fell to eighth.
Chadwick followed Kaminsky closely, studying her rival for several laps; the Andretti Autosport driver was faster and eventually found a way past Kaminsky on lap 26 with a great move, as she built confidence and experimented with different lines. Once ahead, Jamie immediately pulled away and caught up with Rasmus Lindh in just a couple of laps.
Now with race leader Rasmussen in her mirrors, Jamie Chadwick had to pay extra attention in preparing her moves while approached by the leading cars behind. Rasmussen had a big moment during the lapping phases and lost the lead to McElrea – but the Danish driver was back ahead soon after, as McElrea lapped Lindh – again caught by Chadwick after they were cleared by the leaders.
Jamie had a great battle with Lindh; she tried around the outside, then the inside and finally overtook the HMD Motorsport driver on lap 49 – showing confidence in taking more aggressive lines. She then hunted down James Roe and passed him, moving up to P12.
Off the ideal line, Roe made contact with the wall with 20 laps to go, bringing out the only caution of the race, which resumed with 12 laps to go. The lapped cars, though, were sent to the back of the pack and, with Chadwick being the first of the drivers one lap down, she lost the chance to fight for position in the closing laps of the race.
Chadwick was faster than Christian Bogle but eventually had to settle for 12th.
Christian Rasmussen took his fourth win of the season and extended his championship lead, preceding Louis Foster – who had passed McElrea at the restart.
Abel and Frost made contact in the final laps but both kept it out of the wall, crossing the finish line fourth and fifth respectively.
Having started in P13, Chadwick logged good laps and made progress, gaining one position at the chequered flag after a series of clean overtakes. Her speed, especially in the second part of the race, was particularly encouraging - which highlights her potential as she keeps gaining experience.
"I’m a little bit disappointed, however, I felt like we couldn’t expect too much since we didn’t have much time for practice or qualifying today" – Chadwick explained.
"We made a couple of passes in the race and I think we learned a lot which is the main thing."
"I felt like I was finding my feet in the race, and we learned a lot which I am happy about. It would have been nice to have had a full weekend here at World Wide Technology Raceway, but glad we had a chance to race under the lights. Looking forward to the next one."
With the second and final oval race now in the books, Jamie Chadwick will be back on track next weekend at Portland International Raceway, for the penultimate race meeting of the season on September 3rd.