Last month, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitors took to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test. After two days of on-track action, Nico Jamin topped the charts driving for Belardi Auto Racing
Popular Open Wheel’s Ashley McCubbin recently caught up with Jamin to get his thoughts on the test and more.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts on the recent test at Indianapolis?
NICO JAMIN: I thought it was good. It was great to be back on-track at Indianapolis with a different team this time in Belardi Auto Racing. We started talking after the season finale at Watkins Glen and we were trying to test together and see how it goes. Obviously, it went pretty good as we topped three sessions out of eight, and posted the quickest lap overall so very positive. Now, we’re discussing and trying to see if we can put something together this season.
POW: How was it different for you working with Belardi compared to the guys at Andretti?
NJ: Compared to Andretti, it’s a small, family team. There’s less members, but it was also great to see everyone being dedicated and working hard to focus purely on performance. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed working with the whole team. I knew half of them already coming into the team, because I raced with Belardi four years ago in my first season in USF2000, so half of the members are still there from years ago which means a lot.
POW: What are your thoughts looking back on 2017?
NJ: I thought it was a pretty good rookie season. I was hoping to fight for a championship and not finish seventh. But you know, we had our ups and downs and issues at my end during the season. But I feel like whenever the car was there and I had the opportunity to win, I did it. Overall, I got three wins which is tied for the most wins this season. I got a couple podiums as well, so I thought it was a strong rookie season. Definitely a big learning curve from Pro Mazda, but now I definitely feel ready to fight for a championship if I am able to come back next year.
POW: Out of the three wins, what was the most memorable?
NJ: I would have to say Indy – you know, I don’t know, as all of them were memorable. To get my first ever Indy Lights win at Barber was pretty special, crossing the bricks at Indianapolis was amazing, and keeping my streak as Mr. Mid-Ohio in winning there as well. My brother flew from France to see me race, so it was pretty special, as well. I mean, all of the wins have pretty special feelings, but I have to say Indianapolis.
POW: Where do you feel you could’ve been even better?
NJ: I think qualifying is everything in Indy Lights because it’s very hard to make some passes happen. So if you’re starting first, the worst you can finish is about third. But if you start seventh, it’s going to be hard to get into the top-three. I think it’s all about qualifying and putting yourself in position to win races. So I think I didn’t qualify upfront enough during the season, but the few times I did, I was able to win the race. So I think it’s about qualifying upfront consistently.
I thought my race craft was really good. I also felt like when we were unloading at the beginning of the weekend and unloading strong, we had a strong weekend. Anytime we would unload not so strong, we would struggle to find the pace during the weekend.
POW: As of right now, where do you things stand for you in regards to 2018 plans?
NJ: I mean, we’re exploring different possibilities right now. We’re obviously talking with Belardi Auto Racing to try to be in back in Indy Lights to try and fight for a title. But we’re also looking at the possibilities outside of single-seaters, so in sports cars for some prototype or GT stuff. So the options are pretty open to me right now, pretty wide, and the off-season will be long. I would like to be back in Indy Lights to fight for a title, but if that doesn’t happen, I will probably go sports car racing and that’ll be an amazing opportunity for me as well.
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