One of the worst-kept secrets on the American feeder series scene became official this week, as Andretti Autosport announced Jamie Chadwick as the driver of the #28 Dallara IL-15 for the 2023 Indy NXT season. In joining Andretti Autosport, Chadwick follows in the footsteps of several successful female drivers who once raced for the American squad.
By Jeroen Demmendaal
“Definitely,” Chadwick told F1 Feeder Series when asked whether she sees former IndyCar star Danica Patrick as a source of inspiration. Patrick competed in the IndyCar Series with Andretti Autosport between 2007 and 2011, finishing in the top 10 of the championship every season and becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race at Motegi in 2008.
“And it’s not just Danica, there’s so many women,” Chadwick added. “Even Simona [de Silvestro] last year, for example, that had opportunities and success out in the States that I look at. Without it sounding too clichéd, it does make a difference. When I look at that, I see that’s been done before. It’s not like I’m trying to achieve something that’s never been done before.”
“So it does change my perception on things and makes it a little bit easier in that sense. Of course, yeah, the fact that Danica did it with Andretti helps a little bit as well, knowing the team have experience with the likes of some of the best female racing drivers in the world. It’s very cool to see, and hopefully I can as well make that same progression.”
Top-four testing times
F1 Feeder Series was the first to report on Chadwick’s planned move towards Indy NXT, and since her first test in September, she has racked up the miles in additional tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park and Sebring International Raceway. During that period, the W Series champion rapidly improved her pace, and at the most recent series test at Sebring in November, her times put her in the top four on both days.
Chadwick doesn’t want to commit to any personal targets for the 2023 season, however. “I think it’s really hard to be quite so black and white with targets,” she told F1 Feeder Series. “It’s difficult to say, if I finish in the top five, I’m happy, and then that’s it. That’s as black and white as it is. I want to be in a position where I can be a front-runner. Every weekend I want to be in a position where I’m disappointed if I’m not on the front row or if I’m not competitive.”
The British driver is well aware of the challenge that awaits her. Indy NXT cars are considerably more powerful and physical than anything she’s driven thus far, and many tracks will also offer a new experience. “Whether I’m winning every race or not, I think [it] is going to be a challenge given the amount of things that are new,” Chadwick said.
“But at the same time, I want to be disappointed if I’m not competitive. So yeah, I want to hopefully be challenging for the podium, top fives, and we’ll see. Like I said, there’s a lot of new things. Particularly the ovals are going to be a new experience. But the places I have been before and experienced that, I’m hoping to be competitive.”
Field of 18
The official confirmation of Chadwick at Andretti takes the total number of formally announced Indy NXT drivers for 2023 to 14. With F1 Feeder Series aware of at least three other drivers who are all but signed and other potentials still in the works, the series is on track to have around 18 cars on the grid when the 2023 season kicks off on the streets of St. Petersburg in March.
Chadwick will race at Andretti alongside 2022 Indy Lights rookie of the year Hunter McElrea from New Zealand and fellow Briton Louis Foster, the 2022 Indy Pro 2000 champion. A fourth driver is expected to be confirmed shortly.
Header photo credit: Joe Skibinski, Penske Entertainment (left); Morrison_2001, Flickr (right). Montage by F1 Feeder Series
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