Jamie Chadwick to Race INDY NXT with Andretti Autosport, DHL backing

Can Jamie Chadwick replicate her W Series success in INDY NXT?
Can Jamie Chadwick replicate her W Series success in INDY NXT?

Three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick is headed across the Atlantic Ocean to take part in the top rung of INDYCAR’s ladder series, the newly renamed INDY NXT by Firestone. Chadwick, the sole champion of the now disbanded W Series, which was brought forward by the FIA to promote women drivers in open wheel competition, tested the INDY NXT SERIES Dallara earlier this fall. 

With the support of long-time sponsor DHL, Andretti Autosport announced it will field Chadwick in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Dallara, making her the first female in 13 years to compete full-time in the former Indy Lights championship. Andretti Autosport has been a staunch supporter of this series; it comes as no surprise that the team is, once again, fielding cars in INDY NXT. In addition to Chadwick, the team’s No. 26 is driven by fellow rookie Louis Foster, while Hunter McElrea fields the No. 27 Dallara for a second season with the Andretti squad.

DHL, which will sponsor Chadwick’s car in the 14-race INDY NXT 2023 campaign that includes three doubleheaders, has worked with Andretti Autosport for 12 years, joining the team in the 2010 INDYCAR season. Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express, Americas, noted that supporting Chadwick is a natural progression that aligns with DHL’s global values of increasing inclusion for all. “We did this to support Jamie,” Parra said. While this is DHL’s initial support of INDY NXT, “This shows our commitment to the series going forward. We see the upside and opportunity of continuing to work with Andretti Autosport and Jamie Chadwick.”

Demise of the W Series might have been a blessing in disguise for Williams Racing Driver Academy driver Chadwick, whose third title in the free-to-enter series was a dominant one: she secured five of seven race victories, finishing 50 points ahead of the next competitor., Alice Powell. Her first season, 2019, saw Chadwick earn two race victories together with three podium results. While W Series was on hiatus in 2020, Chadwick continued her domination in both 2021 and 2022, even as she continued as a member of Formula One legacy team, Williams’ Racing Driver Academy. 

“We’re very excited to see Jamie embark on a new chapter in INDY NXT,” said Sven Smeets, sporting director for Williams Racing. “Throughout this year, Jamie displayed an incredible level of skill and determination to claim her third W Series title. We look forward to supporting Jamie with her challenge stateside.”

“Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself,” Andretti Autosports’ CEO Michael Andretti noted, “but the INDY NXT series gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing. We’ve turned out five INDY NXT champions over the years, and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent,” he said. While Andretti acknowledged his team’s continuing pursuance of a Formula One team by stating, “We’re not giving up on F1,” Chadwick’s inclusion in that series is not, at this time anyway, considered a primary focus.

“Jame is a proven winner. We’re excited to give her a chance to move up to INDY NXT. She’s shown great potential already in the testing; she’s been right on pace,” Andretti said of his newest driver. He also expressed his gratitude to DHL for their continuing support of the team, something Parra felt important, as DHL has supported women’s and LGBTQ+ endeavors in motorsports. “Recognizing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion is something that we’re on a mission on, from a company that’s in 220 countries across the world,” Parra said.

The few test days she’s completed convinced Chadwick that racing INDY NXT would be a great chance to show her worth on a different stage. “It’s one thing having the opportunity to now step up and progress into the championship like INDY NXT,” she said, “but it’s another to be doing it with a team like Andretti [Autosport]. I think everyone wants these opportunities, and very few people get them. So I’m very, very grateful. It wouldn’t be possible without the likes of DHL, so I’m really excited by it,” Chadwick emphasized.

She definitely thinks INDY NXT is a step up for her career. “I think the performance of the cars, in general, is definitely higher (than W Series). I was surprised by how quick they were when I first tested. That said, they’re really enjoyable to drive, so I think it’s a different driving style required. The main thing,” she noted, “is the slightly longer races.” While W Series performed on a number of street tracks, she’ll be introduced to other, unfamiliar street tracks and ovals, “Which are going to be a new challenge for me.”

When she first tested with Andretti Autosport in September, Chadwick felt at home with the team. “I felt like everyone wanted to support me and give me the best opportunity, so I was successful not just in the test but now ultimately going forward.” There is a lot different from the W Series car she’s driven since 2019: “It’s the amount of adjustability within setups from the engineering aspect,” that interests the driver. “The ability to work with engineers and go through many different test items in the day, as opposed to being quite restricted on those options, I found really interesting – and something I’m really looking forward to learning more about.”

Unsure of W Series’ future, Chadwick wanted to progress outside of that group, looking at Formula 3 as well as INDY NXT. “The opportunity I have here in INDY NXT is far greater than anything I was able to achieve over in Europe with Formula 3. You always want to put yourself in the best position with the best team and the beset environment, and to be in that environment with the likes of Andretti and INDY NXT, I think it was definitely a huge opportunity that gave me a big, big chance for the future. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have that come together in Europe… “

The physicality of INDY NXT race cars is a challenge for Chadwick. “I think the thing that’s the toughest part or the biggest step up is the duration of the races,” she admitted. “I definitely feel capable for one lap, but now looking at 45 minutes to an hour, is going to be the challenge. But it’s something I definitely feel is achievable with training,” something she intends to do throughout the winter, non-track-testing period. “I’ve driven the car enough to know what I need to do,” she said.

Jamie Chadwick will be 24 years old during her rookie, INDY NXT season and realizes she came to the sport a bit later in life. “I was 12 years old. I only did club karting and I think I need to be fully focused on what I need to do to be as best prepared regardless of my age,” realizing there are plenty of drivers in INDY NXT and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES who are younger than she is and who started their paths well before her. “I need to use the INDY NXT championship as the best development platform as possible, learn as much as possible and, when I’m ready for the likes of INDYCAR, I’m ready, and I can make that step.”

About Anne Proffit 1264 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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