Jamie Chadwick’s first race in an Indy Lights car with Andretti Autosport was greeted positively by two-time W Series champion and 2021 Andretti Indy Lights title holder Kyle Kirkwood.

On Wednesday, the Brit drove 210 miles of training in a 450 hp Dallara IL15 turbocharged four-cylinder chassis. around the outer circle of Sebring International Raceway, and after boarding his flight home and having time to reflect on the experience, Chadwick was brimming with encouragement.

“I was happy with how everything went, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I just wanted to experience as much as possible and get to know the team as well as possible, learn the car, understand what Indy Lights is all about. about everything, she told RACER. “On the other hand, I got a good feel for the car and I understand where I need to work and where I need to improve. And I also felt that I have a really good relationship with the team, which fills me with good confidence going forward.”

Benchmarking Chadwick’s performance was a challenge due to her being the only rider on the track. Another significant obstacle in this regard is the track itself. The drastic changes in temperature and humidity at the Florida track, as well as the differences in the rubber applied to the track with multiple cars in motion – or, conversely, the lack of grip during the single car test – make Chadwick’s unofficial best lap of 56.950s almost impossible to compare with the times circle recorded earlier this year.

In the absence of other drivers, Kirkwood, who is returning to Andretti Autosport to take over the No. 28 Honda IndyCar of Alexander Rossi in 2023, praised Chadwick’s results.

“I thought she did really well,” said Kirkwood, who dominated his Lights season as a winner of 10 races out of 20 rounds. “She got the hang of the car a lot quicker than I think most people do and she was faster after her first stint than I was from my first stint in the Lights car. She had very similar comments about the set-up and she had done over 120 laps and physically she seemed to be in a good place because that place can beat you, especially when you go over the bumps for the first time.

“From what I’ve seen she’s very professional and a good driver, she got in the car and was quick from the start. It wasn’t like she got in the car and then kept ticking and taking off the second one every session. She got it right away on old tires; she was fast and maybe got a little faster towards the end of the day, but she didn’t have a lot of speed left from the start. I think she did a good job.”

Among Chadwick’s various skills, she has become an expert at adapting to a wide range of cars and formulas in a short amount of time, as Kirkwood witnessed during the test. Dallara IL15s with big wings, big tires, high power and more weight were new attributes for Chadwick.

“I wanted to go out and try to adapt as quickly as possible,” she said. “But it was only a one-day test so you want to get the most out of it. And yes, this is where I got lucky; I’ve had quite a bit of experience with different cars, so even though it’s still a good step for me, I felt comfortable just jumping in and trying to adapt as quickly as possible. When I first came out, I thought, damn, that’s fast!

“It definitely felt like a big step forward. And the way you ride is completely different from what I was taught. You pull into the circle, you slide quite a bit on the rear tires. Driving is a lot busier than I expected. But it’s fun in that sense. It’s pretty progressive with the rear tires; they allow you to lean on them without risking too much lap time or damaging the tire, which is not the case with anything I’ve done before. So it’s good fun. Trying to get the absolute best lap is not the easiest thing, and being consistent is also difficult. It is quite difficult to tame the car in one lap. But at the same time, it’s a lot of fun.”

Chadwick spent some time before the test training at PitFit in Indianapolis, where most IndyCar drivers build strength and endurance to withstand the rigors of racing high-downforce cars without power steering. When she redirects her career to Indy Lights next year, the intense physical regimen will continue.

“Honestly, I was worried I couldn’t turn the wheel and it was too physical for me and the level I was at, but it really wasn’t. ,” she said. “It’s definitely physical. I definitely have to get a lot stronger. The Indy Lights races are very long. We didn’t do any really long runs during the day, but we did a lot of laps. And I think that it’s very encouraging that I was able to drive at a level I was physically happy with.”

Andretti Autosport President J. F. Thormann, longtime leader of the team’s junior open-wheel programs, expressed his desire to have Chadwick join the Indy Lights program next season. As she found out after seeing the many messages on social media from those who want to see her at Road To Indy, she also has a growing legion of fans, both international and domestic.

“It’s really cool and I’m really surprised,” she admitted. “I didn’t think the test would cause such a reaction. From everything I’ve talked to people about and seen, it’s been very positive. And I think the Indy Lights series and the Road To Indy package are really popular. He has an amazing fan base. So to have that crossover, potentially, with some of the people that support me is great. I think it could be very exciting.”


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