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Interview
Indy NXT Road America

Jamie Chadwick’s historic Indy NXT win wasn’t part of the plan

The first woman to win an Indy NXT race in more than a decade tells Alanis King that she came into this season with high expectations. Just not this high. 

Jamie Chadwick IndyNXT interview

Jamie Chadwick didn’t just win a race at Road America this month. She made a clean sweep: qualifying on pole, leading every lap, and becoming the first woman to win in IndyCar’s feeder series, Indy NXT, in almost 15 years. 

More than a week later, it still feels like an out-of-body experience for her. 

“I always feel like it never really sinks in,” Chadwick, 26, told Motorsport.com. “I've had to watch it back and be like: ‘Oh, that did just happen. That was legit.’ It’s weird. You do it, you've done it, and you still don't feel like it was real.”

Even if her victory doesn't feel real for Chadwick, it shouldn't be much of a surprise to Indy NXT fans. This is the British-born driver’s second season in Indy NXT, both of which she’s spent with powerhouse team Andretti Global. She came to the series as a driver in the Williams Formula One Team’s development program and a three-time champion in the W Series, a now-defunct all-female open-wheel championship. Chadwick’s best Indy NXT finish last year was sixth, but she stormed into the 2024 season. At Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, she scored the first series podium by a woman since 2010. Then, at Road America (the season’s sixth race), she put herself on pole. Still, she wasn’t sure if she “actually had the speed to win the race.” 

“I went into this year with the goal of winning a race and getting podiums,” Chadwick said. “But, to be honest, I didn't actually believe in that goal. I believed I could get a podium, but I didn't believe I could necessarily win a race.”

When she crossed the finish line, Chadwick’s mind was a mix of raw emotions and white noise. But mostly relief. 

“I was so happy—so, so happy,” she said. “You get pole, and you're like, ‘Cool, that was nice.’ But you're never fully happy until you cross that line and ultimately win, so it does feel like a little bit of a weight off.”

Jamie Chadwick in the No. 28 Andretti at Indianapolis

Jamie Chadwick in the No. 28 Andretti at Indianapolis

Photo by: Penske Entertainment

Chadwick wanted to prove, perhaps mostly to herself, that she could win in Indy NXT. No crashes, no attrition, no right place-right time asterisks. She wanted to command a race, then win it. Her doubts were “just an ounce of realism.” 

“I think every driver feels like this,” Chadwick said. “You give yourself a number, and you're happy with that number. Last year, I remember I'd be happy if I was in the top 12. This year, I started off with the top 10—then it was top five. 

“Now, it's started to become a top-three. I felt that's where our speed was at, and there was a bit of a gap to the top two—to be really winning races. We bridged that gap at the weekend. Not to say it's always going to be like that, but now I do believe we can be up there.”

Since the win, headlines everywhere have been about Chadwick making history: that she’s the first woman to win in Indy NXT since Pippa Mann in 2010, and the first woman to ever win on a non-oval track. But Chadwick didn’t think about that stat before Road America, and she hasn’t thought about it since. 

“I don't like that stat, because it's frustrating that it's been that long,” Chadwick said. “Why haven’t there been women winning races? You just haven't had women competing at this level, and therefore not winning races. It shouldn't be the case.

“We've got Lindsay [Brewer] in the championship, but we haven't got many young girls in the feeder series through to IndyCar. Hopefully we can change that, and it’s not going to be so long to the next one.”

Even Chadwick—history-making, race-winning Jamie Chadwick—was never certain this level of success would be in the cards for her. 

“I was good enough at it [as a child] to kind of just about keep going, but it wasn't clear that I was going to be making it to the big leagues,” Chadwick said. “I was fortunate that I had a few opportunities as a woman in the sport. I definitely wouldn't be here today without W Series. I was just fortunate that people continued to believe in me even when things weren't so easy.”

Jamie Chadwick at Sebring testing

Jamie Chadwick at Sebring testing

Photo by: Penske Entertainment

Now, Chadwick is taking both checkered flags and photos with the young girls cheering her on from the grandstands. While the “first woman in more than a decade” stat is frustrating for her, she knows what it means to them. 

“That's really cool for me,” Chadwick said. “If they want to get into the sport and see someone that looks like them having success, they know that that's something they can do. Hopefully that's planted in their memories, and they can go home and tell their mom or dad: ‘I want to go to the kart track and to try this myself.’ 

“The sport's tough for everyone, but if we've only got a handful of young girls starting in the sport in the first place, then you're never going to see them filter through to the top, just by rule of numbers. Increasing [the number of] young girls who can start in the sport and be in an environment they enjoy—comfortable, safe—then I think that's a good starting place.”

Chadwick knows her big win is a good starting place for her own career, too.

“I feel like one race win isn't going to guarantee me anything,” Chadwick said. “But if I can keep this form up, IndyCar is something that I'd love to do.”

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