Jamie Chadwick collected her first top 10 finish in IndyNXT - the first for a female racer since 2010 - in a breakthrough performance at Mid Ohio. At the midpoint of the 2023 IndyNXT calendar, Chadwick has shown improved race pace, qualifying performance as well as good racecraft in her learning-oriented season.
Three time W Series champion and Williams F1 Academy member Jamie Chadwick collected her first top ten of the season in the highly competitive IndyNXT championship, which represents a significant step forward in machinery in her junior single seater career.
Chadwick, 25, made the step from the European racing ladder to the Road to Indy in 2023, joining Andretti Autosport for her first campaign in Indycar's main stepping stone. The British driver - who had amassed 23 podiums in Formula Regional machinery - is contesting her first season in the bigger and more powerful Dallara IL-15, the second-tier on the American single seater racing scene.
Having never raced at any of the circuits on the calendar before, Chadwick's first season was always going to be a learning, step-by-step process; Jamie, though, tackled the challenge and always showed consistent improvements session after session, round after round. Despite being hit by other competitors on a few occasions - often early in the race - Chadwick had been closing in on a top ten since the Detroit double header.
At the Indianapolis Road Course, Jamie had offered a glimpse of her racecraft with some good overtakes in the second half of the race. At the Detroit street circuit - a circuit new to everyone on the field - the driver of the DHL-sponsored #28 machine made a noticeable step forward: she battled throughout the first race within the top ten, only to marginally miss out on it in the very final laps. She unfortunately received damage from a hit from another driver in race 2, which took her out of contention for her first top ten finish.
At Road America, Chadwick made important improvements in a crucial area: qualifying. Jamie qualified ninth on the grid for the first time before, again, being taken out by an early crash. But the trend was clearly noticeable: Chadwick's rookie season was undoubtedly heading in the right direction.
The sixth race meeting of the 2023 IndyNXT championship saw drivers heading to Mid Ohio Sports Car Course - a technical circuit that Chadwick had tested on before, as part of her familiarization with the new car. While in practice she focused on finding a good feeling with the car, it would be again qualifying where Chadwick's steps forward were most visible: she would qualify in P12, less than a second off pole sitter Christian Rasmussen and two tenths from the top ten. The session was interrupted after four minutes with a red flag, as Danial Frost (HMD Motorsports) stopped on track and was unable to rejoin. With this year's format, the drivers were guaranteed eight minutes of green flag action and the session resumed for another four minutes to get the fastest lap times in.
Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports) emerged as the fastest, scoring pole position ahead of Louis Foster (Andretti Autosport) and Kyffin Simpson (HMD Motorsports).
From pole, Rasmussen led most of the laps and survived two Safety Car restarts - as Frost spun early in the race and later Christian Bogle (HMD Motorsports) beached his car into the gravel. But as the rain drops started to fall, the Danish driver dropped down to third after a mistake that allowed Foster to close in and finally pass Rasmussen for the lead.
Later in the race, championship leader Nolan Siegel (HMD Motorsports) went off and brought out another Full Course Caution. At the restart, Foster kept the lead and took his maiden win in IndyNXT - with Rasmussen and Simpson swapping places for the second.
Jamie Chadwick fought her way up the field with great pace and good battles; the British driver held 12th position at the start and followed closely Christian Bogle over the first lap - then found a way past with a clean pass on lap 2. Chadwick soon caught up with Enaam Ahmed and started to put pressure on the Cape Motorsports driver. After the first caution, Rasmus Lindh slipped down to tenth and became Chadwick's main target.
She set her fastest lap of the race on lap 21 - just before a few raindrops made the second part of the race more tricky. Jamie kept the pressure on and eventually grabbed the opportunity to break in the top ten capitalizing on Siegel's mistake on lap 28, as grip conditions worsened.
With four laps to go, Jamie had a great run on Ahmed and had found a gap when she was squeezed onto the grass and the two made contact. Luckily, her car did not sustain damage and she could continue, albeit being passed by Pierson. Before the end of the lap, though, she claimed back tenth place after a spin by Jagger Jones just ahead of her.
In the closing laps, Chadwick defended from Frost and crossed the finish line to clinch a historical tenth place finish - the first top ten for a female racer since Pippa Mann's Kentucky victory in 2010.
Jamie's result is surely just the beginning of her climb up the Road To Indy ladder, but marks an important milestone in a learning-oriented season.
At the midpoint of the 2023 IndyNXT calendar, Chadwick has shown improved race pace, qualifying performance, good racecraft as well as good tyre management in the latter stages of the races.
Next up is going to be another big challenge: her first oval race of her career - at Iowa Speedway, on July 22.