Chadwick’s US move is paying off – and proving her critics wrong

Even the Abu Dhabi Auto Racing League

A loss on the Formula 1 ladder has always been a gain for IndyCar. Jamie Chadwick has blazed a trail for female racers since she began competing in motorsport 11 years ago. Now, she's the winner of the Indy NXT race, and her move in the US is finally paying off.

She may have a better chance of continuing this style than her European career.

Chadwick made history at Road America on Sunday when she became the first female driver to win an Indy NXT (formerly Lights) road race and the first woman to ever win the series since Pippa Mann in 2010.

She started on pole and led every lap of the 20-lap race, completely in control. Even when the race was red-flagged and a two-lap shootout was needed to secure the win, she did so by gaining a 0.823-second lead over championship-chasing Andretti teammate Lewis Foster on the second lap.

As the red flag was raised, Foster – who had started the race in third place – came on to the team radio to ask Chadwick to give him some current when the race resumed to help him in his battle for second place with title rival Jacob Abel. He conceded that second place was as good as he was going to get because he didn't have an answer for Chadwick – and he was right.

America's Way did not come out of the blue. There was a lot of doubt about Chadwick's minor form in her rookie season in NXT last year, but as our American editor Jack Binion pointed out, it's because she has a full calendar of songs to learn and a completely different new series to adapt to. She faced local opposition, and her teaching year was actually very promising.

This year I have qualified in the top 10 in every race and in the top 6 in all races. She made the podium at the Indianapolis road course but just a lot of bad luck kept her from being there much before Road America.

This weekend at Road America may turn out to be the most important of her entire career.

It's strange to say that considering Chadwick was undisputed champion for three years. It won the inaugural W Series season in 2019 and continued to defend its title in 2021, when the series returned after a coronavirus hiatus, and again in its final year in 2022.

During her time in the women's-only series, she comfortably has the most wins, podium finishes, pole positions, and points. It has won just over half of the races in the history of the W Series and has only been off the podium in three of them.

Her dominance was unparalleled, adding to growing concerns about the utility of the tournament in helping women find higher chances in racing. Given the usual career paths that most of the W Series grid had to follow until its inception, there weren't many criteria by which to judge what dominance there really meant or how that would translate to the F1 main ladder – and apparently not much appetite for finding out.

The series' sudden demise turned out to be a blessing in disguise for its best driver.

The W Series has done its job of providing Chadwick with the vision and on-track experience that young female racing drivers struggle to obtain compared to their male counterparts, while not burdening her with the need to raise a huge budget.

Without that opportunity, she certainly wouldn't have been on the radar of an Andretti Indy NXT opportunity.

Getting onto the proper F3-F2 ladder at all – let alone getting close to F1 – seemed like a distant hope from the W Series, and the successor to the F1-approved F1 Academy still needs time to prove it can be a proper feeder down that road too.

Indy NXT's record of getting its drivers into IndyCar is much better than F2's is with F1. IndyCar's larger field and lower budgets help, as does its sports culture being better suited to teams running additional cars or part-time entries. Don't suggest to the IndyCar team that it will be easy to add an additional car for Chadwick in 2025 or 2026 – the challenges of supplying the engine, parts and personnel will still be huge. But this makes sense in a way that Formula 1's 10-team/20-car setup does not allow.

Chadwick is now in a franchise that truly serves as a launching pad to the next level, with a team that has a strong presence at that next level and, most important of all, is winning now. Right. In front of the title contenders. On the track of the scariest road in America. Take it seriously.

This American success did not come without adversity.

Chadwick received an A a lot Of the negativity since her move to Indy NXT; You'll certainly never see any other three-time Motorsports Series champion have his victories scrutinized as much as you have.

Even after Road America, she scrolls through X (formerly Twitter), there is still negativity surrounding her success. The expectations placed on her were very high, portraying her as the future of women in motorsport, while achieving this immediately would always be impossible.

Patience is not something we see often in the likes of F2. Drivers must be at the top of their game; If you don't win a race in your first year, you will most likely not be considered a future Formula 1 driver. In America, it's much different.

Drivers are given time. It's time to move forward, time to adapt, time to improve. As Chadwick increasingly takes control of the heavier, more powerful machinery beneath him, we see more controlled aggressive impulses that certainly pay off.

This win embodies all of that and has well and truly set him on the path to success. A path that might now start right.


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