Jones fights through field for 'smart' top eight finish in IndyCar curtain-raiser

  • Dubai-born Brit showcases street-fighting skills in 2018 IndyCar opener
  • Ganassi ace kick-starts sophomore season with hard-earned eighth-place finish
  • 23-year-old goes wheel-to-wheel with big-hitters in action-packed encounter

Ed Jones showcased his fighting spirit in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series curtain-raiser around the Streets of St. Petersburg in Florida last weekend (11 March), battling back from a difficult qualifying session to score a top eight finish on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.
The talented Dubai, UAE-born ace – last season’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ – has switched camps to IndyCar powerhouse Ganassi for his sophomore campaign at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
With limited testing opportunities for the 24 high-calibre contenders to get to grips with 2018’s new-look car – incorporating a universal aero kit that generates significantly less downforce than its predecessor and consequently reduced cornering stability – the first of 17 races on the calendar represented something of a leap into the unknown, and braking issues for Jones during free practice made it difficult to gauge the No.10 NTT Data entry’s true potential.
After working hard to improve the balance of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, the 23-year-old Brit looked primed to move up the order in the knockout qualifying session around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit through downtown St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, however, traffic scuppered his chances and restricted Jones to a disappointed 17th on the starting grid for Sunday’s 110-lap, 198-mile Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – albeit just three spots behind the defending race-winner.
Undaunted, the 2016 Indy Lights Champion went immediately on the attack when the green flag flew, gaining seven positions over the course of a superb opening lap. He would continue to feature around the fringes of the top ten as no fewer than eight full-course caution periods for a variety of incidents interrupted the action and threw strategies into disarray.
Along the way, Jones indulged in wheel-to-wheel scraps with the likes of reigning champion Josef Newgarden, fellow title-winners Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan – the most experienced driver in the field with some 344 IndyCar starts under his belt – not to mention his own Ganassi team-mate, four-time champion Scott Dixon. Keeping illustrious company indeed, he would climb as high as fourth place through a combination of impressively quick lap times and incisive overtaking manoeuvres – 21 in all.
The erstwhile European F3 Open Champion made his third and final pit visit with 32 laps to go, and as tactics played out in the closing stages, he found himself sitting seventh, directly behind Dixon and just shy of ten seconds ahead of Newgarden. Carefully managing his fading tyres and the gap to his chasing Team Penske rival, Jones was maintaining a consistently strong pace and had the situation firmly under control until a brace of late safety car interventions narrowed his advantage to next-to-nothing, leaving him powerless to defend his position against a driver running on significantly fresher rubber.
Surviving the drama to take the chequered flag eighth – a nine-place improvement upon his grid slot – the former British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Earl Howe Trophy winner was justifiably pleased with his performance, and is already looking forward to seconds-out, round two in the Phoenix Grand Prix under the floodlights of Arizona’s ISM Raceway on 7 April.
“We got off to a tough start in practice, but it was the same for everyone with the 2018-spec car,” Jones reflected. “I think we all probably had less grip than we’d anticipated. That’s a new challenge, but one I’m certainly up for. I also got caught up in traffic, which meant my speed wasn’t reflective of the package I had underneath me but we weren’t too far off.
“After struggling a bit on Saturday morning, we reverted to what we had run on Friday and I felt more comfortable in qualifying, but we just missed out on advancing to the next phase by a fraction of a second after a car came out of the pits in front of us and deterred our progress. That was obviously frustrating, but we had a great first lap on Sunday and made up a lot of early ground. As a team, I think we were smart all day and drove a very solid race.
“You always go back and look at some things you may have been able to do better, but all aspects considered, I think my first race with Ganassi went well. It’s been an exciting start to the season, and now I can’t wait for Phoenix!”

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Jones 'heading in the right direction' as 2018 IndyCar campaign races into view

  • Dubai-born Brit in confident spirits following ‘positive’ Phoenix oval test
  • IndyCar Series sophomore enjoying challenge of new aero package
  • Chip Ganassi Racing ace ready to push in St. Petersburg curtain-raiser

Ed Jones has hailed an ‘extremely positive’ first oval test with Chip Ganassi Racing at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway, as the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace ramps up his preparations towards his sophomore campaign at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Having made the switch from Dale Coyne Racing to Ganassi over the winter off-season, Jones has focussed his efforts in recent months on settling into his new surroundings and getting to grips with the nuances of the universal aero kit that IndyCar has rolled out for 2018.
The bold new design produces significantly less downforce than drivers had at their disposal last year, reducing cornering stability and placing more emphasis on skill behind the wheel – a challenge that the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ is relishing.
Following an initial outing at Sebring International Raceway in Florida last month, Jones returned to the cockpit of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater for the eagerly-anticipated two-day ‘Open Test’ around Phoenix’s 1.022-mile oval – venue for the second round of the forthcoming campaign in early April – alongside 22 high-calibre rivals.
Over the course of 12 hours of on-track activity both during the afternoon and under the circuit floodlights after dark, the 23-year-old Brit covered a total of 283 laps. He featured as high as seventh on the timesheets and ultimately wound up 12th-fastest outright at an average speed of 187.696mph, less than a tenth-of-a-second adrift of four-time championship-winning team-mate Scott Dixon – the most successful driver in IndyCar’s modern era.
Jones has one test remaining – back at Sebring towards the end of February – before the 17-race season roars into life at St. Petersburg in Florida on 9-11 March. From there, the popular and fiercely-disputed series will visit a variety of demanding road courses, iconic street circuits and high-speed ovals – and the former European F3 Open Champion is fired-up to prove his potential.
“The test went really well,” affirmed Jones, who will pilot Ganassi’s No.10 NTT Data entry in 2018. “It was my first time running with the new aero kit on an oval, so there was a certain degree of adapting to do as we worked on finding the best set-up for the car, but we logged a lot of very solid laps and by the second day I felt much more comfortable and able to attack more.
“The new package is very different to last year, when we were pretty much flat the whole way round the lap on ovals. Now, due to the reduction in downforce, there is more lifting involved, which makes it more difficult to hold onto the tyres over longer stints. That will introduce more of a technical and tactical element into the driving, which I think will suit me well.
“We made a lot of changes over the two days and learnt and improved a great deal. Although we still have more pace to find and plenty to pick up in a short space of time, we’re heading in the right direction and I believe we left Phoenix in a much stronger position than when we arrived, both in terms of single-lap speed and race simulations, which is all extremely positive.
“I am confident we can be competitive from the outset at St. Petersburg next month, and I’m really looking forward to the season. I feel completely at home inside the team and whilst I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be tough – because the level in IndyCar is sky-high right now – I have a great opportunity with Ganassi this year and I fully intend to make the most of it.
“I don’t want to set myself any specific targets as such, because until we go into qualifying at St. Pete, we don’t know what the current pecking order is. That will be the first true litmus test, but I’m excited to get out there and see what we can do.”

The entire 2018 IndyCar campaign is due to be broadcast on ABC and NBCSN in North America, OSN in the UAE and BT Sport / ESPN in the UK, with an expanded use of in-car cameras set to bring fans closer than ever to the thrilling on-track action.

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Jones loving life at Ganassi as he targets IndyCar wins in 2018

  • IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ aiming to move up the grid in sophomore season
  • Dubai-born Brit confident of battling at the front in fiercely-disputed series
  • New Ganassi recruit eager to learn from ultra-successful US open-wheel outfit

Ed Jones is swiftly settling into his new surroundings at Chip Ganassi Racing as preparations intensify towards the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series campaign, with the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace hailing a positive first test for the team at Sebring International Raceway last week as another step in the right direction.
Jones impressed over the course of his maiden season at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition with Dale Coyne Racing last year, speeding to an outstanding third-place finish in the legendary Indianapolis 500 on his way to the prestigious ‘Rookie of the Year’ laurels.
His eye-catching performances resulted in the 22-year-old Brit being quickly snapped up by IndyCar powerhouse Ganassi – a team counting no fewer than 11 titles to its name at the highest level of American single-seater racing, and one boasting both tremendous pedigree in the sport and first-rate resources.
Not only that, but he will have the opportunity to learn from – and measure himself against – team-mate Scott Dixon, a four-time champion and the most successful driver in the series’ modern era, having finished inside the top three in the overall standings in ten of the last 11 seasons.
Jones’ first taste of IndyCar’s new UAK18 universal bodywork kit at Sebring saw him cover more than 120 laps of the bumpy Florida road course in Ganassi’s 720bhp, No.10 NTT Data entry. Next up for the former Indy Lights Champion and European F3 Open title-winner will be a session on Honda’s state-of-the-art simulator, followed by a group test at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and one more day behind the wheel at Sebring before the first flag drops on the 2018 campaign at St. Petersburg in mid-March.
As he approaches his fourth season of stateside competition – with all races due to be broadcast on ABC and NBCSN in North America, OSN in the UAE and BT Sport / ESPN in the UK, and an expanded use of in-car cameras set to bring fans ever-closer to the thrilling on-track action – Jones acknowledges that the goalposts have shifted and asserts that the top step of the podium is unequivocally the aim.
“I’m settling in well,” affirmed the series sophomore. “I immediately felt comfortable at Ganassi, which made for a very smooth transition. I have spent a lot of time at the team workshop and everybody is extremely open and easy to get along with, and they clearly share a huge amount of experience, knowledge and expertise of the sport. For all of his tremendous achievements, Scott is similarly a really down-to-earth guy and I think we will work well together. I want to learn as much as I can from him and from each and every member of the team.
“For me, it’s important to have a strong team-mate, and Scott is the ultimate benchmark in IndyCar racing. I’m going to need to be absolutely at the top of my game this year if I want to match him, but that’s a challenge I’m relishing and I will work my socks off to succeed. If I can do that, I will know I’ve done a good job.
“Sebring marked my first day on-track with the team – in fact, my first day in a racing car full-stop since the final race of 2017 at Sonoma last September! It was obviously good to climb back behind the wheel again after such a long time out of the cockpit, and it was a very positive and enjoyable test.
“The 2018-spec car has a lot less downforce than its predecessor, which gives the feeling of having more power at our disposal – even though we don’t. What it does mean is the car accelerates faster than before and is capable of hitting higher top speeds, while sacrificing cornering grip and stability under braking, which will probably lead to more lock-ups and slides as drivers adapt. I think early success this season will come down to who manages to optimise their package the quickest, and in that respect, all I can do is focus on myself and prepare myself in the best way possible.
“Last year was all about getting to grips with the fundamentals of IndyCar racing, and having done that, now I can concentrate more on the finer details. Ultimately, I think the new car will suit me quite well, and I will certainly be giving it my all.
“I’m well aware that expectations are completely different to during my rookie season, but at the same time, I have a lot more experience under my belt and greater resources at my disposal and I feel in a much stronger position for that. Yes, there is more pressure on my shoulders now, but I see it as positive pressure. This is the opportunity I have been working so hard towards since the beginning of my car racing career. I have everything I require to be able to fight at the front – and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

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Chip Ganassi Racing Signs 2017 INDYCAR Rookie of the Year Ed Jones for its Verizon IndyCar Series Program

2016 Indy Lights Champion to Pilot No. 10 NTT DATA Honda Alongside Racing Legend Scott Dixon in Two-Car Effort

INDIANAPOLIS (October, 25 2017) – Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that 22-year-old British driver Ed Jones has joined the team’s Verizon IndyCar Series program in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda beginning in 2018, teaming up with four-time INDYCAR Champion, Indianapolis 500 Winner and 41-time race winner Scott Dixon.

The 2017 INDYCAR Rookie of the Year scored a best finish of third at the Indianapolis 500 this season after taking the Indy Lights Championship in 2016 on the strength of two wins and nine podium finishes. 

In 2016, Jones captured the Indy Lights title and the Mazda scholarship with two wins, eight podium finishes and eight pole positions. In 2015, he made the move across the Atlantic with Carlin Racing and into Indy Lights. Jones served notice of his title aspirations right out of the box, earning the first three race victories of the season – the first rookie driver to do so. He went on to finish third in the title chases. Prior to that, Jones earned several karting titles in his native Dubai before making his race car debut in the 2011 European Intersteps Championship. In 2013, Jones became the youngest European F3 Open Champion in history with six wins, 10 podium finishes and four pole positions.

Ed Jones, Driver, No. 10 NTT DATA Honda: “This is truly an honor to have the opportunity to drive for Chip, his organization and to represent NTT DATA. Chip runs one of the biggest and best motor racing teams in the world, and equally as important, is a proven winner across each series he competes in from Le Mans to Indianapolis and beyond. I want to get up to speed quickly and learn as much as I can. Scott is a legend in the sport, and to get the chance to team with him is an amazing opportunity. I think I’m joining the team at a perfect time when the playing field is being reset with common aero kits, and everyone is adjusting to a new formula. I'm really looking forward to getting in the car and getting underway with our 2018 campaign.”

Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing: “We’ve been following Ed’s career for quite some time now and are pleased we are able to add him to strengthen our Indy car lineup. He has a year of Indy car racing under his belt now and is the type of young talent that we were looking for. We can’t wait to get him on the race track.”

About Chip Ganassi Racing

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners the sport has anywhere in the world. Today his teams include four cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, two cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, two cars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, two factory Ford GT’s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and two factory Ford GT’s in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Overall his teams have 18 championships and more than 195 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, seven Rolex 24 At Daytonas, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.


Jones reflects on 'fantastic' rookie season after Californian IndyCar finale

  • Dale Coyne Racing ace concludes impressive IndyCar season at Sonoma
  • Dubai-born Brit denied strong finish by misfortune in Golden State
  • ‘Rookie of the Year’ keen to return to fiercely-disputed series in 2018

Ed Jones’ hopes of signing off the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season with a sixth top ten finish were dashed by mechanical misfortune at Sonoma Raceway last weekend, but the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace was nonetheless able to hold his head high at the end of an impressive maiden campaign at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.

Having tested at Sonoma Raceway earlier this year but never previously raced there, Jones returned to the 12-turn, 2.385-mile northern California road course for the Grand Prix of Sonoma eager to produce one more eye-catching performance before the final chequered flag fell.
The 2016 Indy Lights Champion and former European F3 Open Champion logged 42 laps over the course of a pre-weekend test day held in changeable conditions, placing 13th on the timesheets amongst the 22 high-calibre protagonists, but practice and qualifying would prove to be more of a struggle, leaving him a disappointed 18th on the grid for the race.
Undeterred, a bright start saw Jones advance five spots on the opening lap to settle into 13th position, subsequently progressing further to run 12th. The 22-year-old Brit looked set to finish inside the top ten behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dale Coyne Racing Dallara-Honda single-seater, until a right-rear suspension failure just 16 laps from home spelt an early bath.
"Sonoma was a completely different experience to the previous race at Watkins Glen, going from a super high-grip track to one that falls off really quickly,” he mused. “It was also very hot compared to Watkins Glen, where it had been on the cold side, so polar opposites really.
“When we tested there, we had a pretty decent car but the circuit conditions changed a lot between the open test and free practice. There were also cars from other series that had been on-track in the meantime, and the different types of rubber laid down made it more challenging and unpredictable.
“Qualifying clearly didn’t work out the way we had hoped. We had been aiming to be in the fight for the ‘Fast 12’, but we tried something in an effort to overcome the difficulties we had encountered in practice and while that helped in some areas, there were a few downsides as well.
“I had a good start to the race and gained quite a few positions. I attacked really hard because I knew that would be my best opportunity to make up ground, and we ran 12th for a long time with pretty decent pace. We were on-course to finish at least 11th and could maybe even have slipped into the top ten, so it was obviously frustrating to then suffer our first major technical issue of the season. Saying that, everything has gone so well this year that the law of averages dictates it was going to happen eventually.”
The failure to finish was a double blow – quite literally – given that double points were on offer for the Grand Prix of Sonoma, restricting Jones to 14th in the final standings. Nonetheless, after being presented with the prestigious ‘Sunoco Rookie of the Year’ trophy – and the $50,000 prize that accompanies it – the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé professed himself justifiably pleased with his achievements in 2017, capped by an outstanding third place in the legendary Indianapolis 500 back in May.
“It's been a great year for us and it’s an honour to receive this award,” he enthused. “There are so many drivers in the past that have won it as rookies and moved on to be champions or won a lot of races, and I’m hoping I can be part of that story. I feel like as a driver, I got stronger as the season progressed. Early on, I had some great results and while I was driving well then, a lot of things also fell my way. Now, I think I’m better both as a driver and in terms of my bond with the team.
“Coming through the Mazda Road to Indy was key to my success this year. Before 2015, I had only raced in Europe. Learning all the American circuits was very important for me, and to be able to do that in Indy Lights was really helpful. Without that, I wouldn't have been able to gain the experience I did, which is what makes the Mazda Road to Indy so relevant for young, up-and-coming drivers like myself.
“I want to thank Dale [Coyne] and the whole DCR team for the opportunity they gave me this season, to work alongside a great group of engineers which has allowed me to progress quickly and secure some of the results we did. It's been a fantastic year, and I hope we can do it again in 2018.”

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