‘It meant a lot’: Jamie Chadwick ready to build on debut win in Indy NXT series

British driver Jamie Chadwick is ready to build on her debut victory in the Indy NXT series after becoming the first woman to win on a road course in the US Championship, a feeder competition for IndyCar.

The 26-year-old from Bath, who took a podium in Indianapolis earlier this season, called Sunday’s victory at the Road America circuit in Wisconsin the highlight of her career.

“It’s probably the win I’m most proud of,” she said. “A hard-fought race, it’s definitely the highest level I’ve experienced, so it meant a lot. I’m super optimistic, we’ve been in the top five on pace all year. I had to bridge that gap to the top two, top three and we have now done that.

“There are more difficult circuits coming up and we won’t always be at the top there, but I think we can definitely be in contention every weekend, that’s what I want to focus on.”

Chadwick took the pole in her second season in Indy NXT and then led 20 laps to the flag for the Andretti team. She showed the control and skill that won her three W Series titles, not least with a two-lap shootout after a red flag towards the end of the race.

Her first season in Indy NXT was a big step forward and she admits the physicality of the cars took some getting used to. However, in her second year, she feels she is now up to the challenge.

“There was the podium, then the pole and then the win, three big moments where I felt like we can be really competitive in this championship,” she said. “That should be the expectation, you fight for victories there. That mentality will help the rest of the year.”

Chadwick’s contract with Andretti expires at the end of this season, but she believes there will be more opportunities to continue racing in the US and possibly the chance to move up to IndyCar if she continues to perform.

“One race win in the Indy NXT won’t get me an IndyCar seat, but it will give me a successful season and there are good opportunities,” she said. “It’s very simple, according to the guidelines I received from each team: if you win and have success, you put yourself right in front of the door. Just looking at the number of people who switched from Indy NXT to IndyCar proves that that process is working.”

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Chadwick is the first woman to record a race victory in the series since British colleague Pippa Mann won in Kentucky in 2010, demonstrating the paucity of female drivers in the sport. However, Chadwick hopes change is on the way.

“We should have more women participating in the sport in the first place,” she said. “The F1 Academy and the W Series before that provided enormous opportunities and we are seeing more and more young girls in karting. I think it’s now just a matter of time before we see a bigger shift.”