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Chadwick: Experience and getting “beefed up” key to Indy Nxt podium

by Ida Wood

Photo: James Black

Jamie Chadwick claimed a breakthrough first Indy Nxt podium this month on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

As a rookie Chadwick only twice finished higher than 10th, with sixth her best result en route to 12th in the standings. Four races into this season she sits 13th in the points table, her third place accompanied by a 16th, a 20th and a retirement.

While those results combined may not make it obvious, Chadwick has definitely improved. Her average qualifying pace at the first three circuits in 2023 was 101.307% of the pole time, and this year it has been 100.453%. Similarly, her fastest race laps at those tracks has gone from an average of 101.664% of the absolute pace to 100.963%.

“It’s often actually very hard to actually make such a big step. So honestly I’m so happy with this step we’ve made,” she said. “At the end of last year we started to make the improvements, and then it just took the off-season to really make the progress that we needed.”

There’s “validation” that hard work has led to a podium, but “there’s still a step” to be made to contend for wins.

“I haven’t had a result at all this year, and I needed to keep my nose clean in that race and we did and we were rewarded for that,” she said of her podium. “Going into the rest of the season I want to be fighting at the front, and I think we’ve made a solid foundation [for that].”

So what was the work Chadwick did to become more competitive?

“The physicality of it was a big one, to be honest. These are physical cars, and coming from W Series which is probably closer to a Formula 4 car, I knew it was going to be a challenge. But until you’re really in the thick of it and in the season you don’t really know. And for that reason I was underprepared last year.

“Hopefully beefed up quite a bit in the off-season, which has definitely helped and paid off this year. Also I think knowing what’s coming. Last year, going to tracks for the first time, spending a lot of energy on learning so much, it makes me take my hat off to the rookies that come in and do an incredible job. Because it isn’t as easy as it looks.”

Chadwick said claiming an Indy Nxt podium meant “a lot more” than success in the all-female, Formula Regional-spec W Series, where she won three titles.

“Especially coming off the back of last year, which was a tough year and tough transition into the series. To then find what I felt was good form and pace this year, but struggling to kind of convert that into results. To then get up on the podium here definitely means a lot.”

Seeking to convert pace into podiums means Chadwick has “not looked at so much the consistency”, instead appoaching 2024 “just wanting to get results” and going “maximum attack”.