Jamie Chadwick makes good steps forward at Indianapolis
"I think this was a good step from previous races" - Jamie Chadwick showed very solid improvements at the Indy NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Indianapolis, where the British racer made good passes and had strong pace in the second half of the race.
The Month of May carries a lot of meaning for IndyCar as well as for the whole Road to Indy ladder. As IndyNXT headed to the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for its third round of the 2023 season, British racer Jamie Chadwick had the chance to continue building experience Stateside at one of the world's temples of motor racing. Her focus, though, remained on the process of acclimatization to the Dallara IL15 as well as the American tracks that she is visiting for the first time this season. And, weekend after weekend, Chadwick is making good steps forward. The Indy NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Indianapolis started with the sole Friday practice, which saw Kyffin Simpson (HMD Motorsports) clocking the fastest time ahead of Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport). Jamie Chadwick was well within the Top-10, with a 9th fastest time- merely half a second from the top of the timesheets - that showed really promising pace despite the limited amount of practice time. Chadwick - 11th at the previous round at Barber Motorsports Park despite a contact on the opening lap - is clearly closing in on the top ten and is learning the car quickly - but her main issues remain in qualifying. Having set the pace in practice, Simpson also wasn't able to put in a fast enough lap in qualifying and ended 6th on the grid - while Juncos Racing's Matteo Nannini set the fastest lap of the session to claim pole position, ahead of Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster (Andretti Autosport). With a 01:16.0817 lap, Jamie Chadwick was 14th fastest, seven tenths off pole in a field where each car was separated by hundredths of a second. "Making gains but still not quite able to maximise the new tyre when it grips up and gets heavy", Chadwick explained. "Car is fast and potential is there though so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in from P14 tomorrow." Maximising the peak of the tyre performance, in fact, remains crucial for Chadwick to qualify in the top ten, where her race pace actually suggests she should be battling - but the British driver is making good steps in the right direction. On race day, the pack had a troubled start, as the green flag was waved on the third attempt - after first time pole sitter Nannini had not bunched up the field correctly on the first attempts. The Italian led at turn 1, followed by Foster - who passed McElrea, immediately dropped down to sixth. Nannini pulled away but Foster would close in later on. The race leader had a tense moment as he locked up his front tires, but managed to stay in front, while Foster tried to save his push to pass for the last few laps. Nannini eventually took the victory, ahead of Foster and Simpson - third after he passed Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports) on lap 7. From 14th on the grid, Jamie Chadwick had a cautious start but continued to battle in the mid-pack over the first lap. While she lost a few positions in the last sector of lap 1, she would regroup and hunted down the cars ahead once again. In the second half of the race, Chadwick's pace emerged as one of the most competitive cars. She overtook Christian Bogle and, on lap 22, she completed a great pass on Josh Pierson (HDM Motorsports) into turn 1. Once ahead also of Reece Gold on lap 28, Chadwick showed top-10 worthy pace. The driver of the #28 DHL Andretti Autosport machine was consistently on the low-1:18 pace throughout the final laps - with only a handful of drivers faster than her: Jamie would be the second fastest car on track at one point. She eventually crossed the finish line in P15, having completed all laps and with the overall feeling of an important progress. "I think this was a good step from previous races", Jamie said. "It was a tough physical race out there and I dropped back after the first lap, but was able to kind of recover to something respectful. So, I enjoyed it." "It was tough and it's nice to finish a race on the lead lap for once. Now I'm just looking forward to carrying that confidence and learning experience into Detroit." The next round - a double header - will take place at Detroit from 3rd to 4th June, on the new street circuit layout.