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Chadwick feels "relaxed" over crucial second Indy NXT season

The 25-year-old Briton is coming off a respectable rookie campaign where she earned five top-10 finishes, including a season-best sixth (Portland).

With that, though, off-season preparations are already well underway, and it was kickstarted with the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Oct. 20. Chadwick, sporting an all-black firesuit, looked more comfortable on the day than at any point during last season.

“I'm amazed at how different I feel,” said Chadwick, a three-time W Series champion. “... just familiarity, culturally, everything.

“There's just so much adjustment last year and I just felt like it took me too long and a lot of time to just adapt and learn what was required, and obviously all new tracks as well. Felt like everything was just a new thing.

“So, now just having familiarity with everything, feels a lot more relaxing and a lot better going into it.”

One of the key contributors for the rising confidence isn’t solely on the experience gained, but also the continuity of remaining with Andretti Global for 2024.

“It's a huge part of it,” Chadwick said. “I think we started the journey with Andretti and just so many things that I was able to kind of learn with them, particularly close with the team, with my engineer and the team around me.

“I think a lot of that was with their support, so to come back with that and be able to refer to a lot of the stuff that we learned in this past year is going to be valuable for sure.

“They've obviously got a very fast car capable of winning races and championships, so there's no sort of doubt on that side of things, either. I know that I've got the car and the team behind me for it.”

Jamie Chadwick rolls around the IMS road course at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test. (Photo by: IndyCar Series)

Although it is only testing, the benchmark became clear as team-mate Louis Foster, the 2022 USF Pro 2000 champion, paced the 21-car field with a flying lap of 1m14.8432s around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS circuit.

Chadwick was third quickest among the four Andretti drivers, logging 44 laps with a best of 1m15.4714s, putting her 11th overall – directly behind rookie Bryce Aron in 10th and ahead of James Roe in 13th.

Chadwick, a development driver for the Williams F1 team since 2019, reflected back on last season and noted when the adjustment to Indy cars started to click.

“It started to come to us as we sort of came here [to Indianapolis Motor Speedway] and Detroit,” Chadwick said.

“From there on in the season, the first two races were the hardest: St. Pete just being a baptism, then Barber being very physical. After that, it started to get a little bit better, even if it didn't sort of show it in results.

“As the year went on, honestly, I felt like every race weekend we just got closer and closer, even if that wasn't reflected on paper, on a result, just in what we see in the data and what I feel within the car, we were getting closer and closer. It felt like maybe Nashville was a breakthrough race, but before that I had already started to be more comfortable and confident.”

With five more months until the 2024 season begins on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5, Chadwick is focused on maximizing the off-season.

“I think the nice thing going into it this year is I know what to expect a little bit,” Chadwick said.

“Last year, I remembered having 1,000,001 things thinking about what do I need to expect. I didn't know, so I went in with just take everything that I can from the first race, but now knowing what I need to work on, having that experience I think is going to give me clarity over this winter to be structured and work hard on what we can.

“It's limited in test days, but last year we didn't actually run the Firestone (tire) until the week before the first race, so last year was definitely tough in terms of limited running. This year, I think it should be a bit better.”

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