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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Conditions conspire to blunt Jones' charge at The Glen

  • IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ goes unrewarded for determined drive
  • Dubai-born Brit battles against the odds at iconic Watkins Glen
  • Dale Coyne Racing ace fired-up to finish season strongly at Sonoma


Ed Jones placed an unlucky 13th in last weekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen – the penultimate outing on the fiercely-disputed Verizon IndyCar Series schedule – as he was left to lament an unexpected change in conditions that denied him a better result.
 
Less than a week after being crowned IndyCar’s ‘Rookie of the Year’, Jones headed to the legendary, ultra-fast Watkins Glen International circuit in upstate New York in optimistic mood, having finished second there 12 months earlier en route to the Indy Lights title.
 
Unlike 18 of his 20 high-calibre rivals, though, the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace had no prior experience around the physically demanding, 3.37-mile permanent road course in an IndyCar, putting him somewhat on the back foot heading into the weekend’s three 45-minute practice sessions.
 
Logging 56 laps behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dale Coyne Racing Dallara-Honda single-seater, Jones wound up 18th in practice before improving to 15th in qualifying. With rain in the air ahead of the 60-lap race the following day, however, drivers and teams had some difficult decisions to make regarding car set-up.
 
A wet race was subsequently declared, obliging the 22-year-old Brit to take the start on wet tyres but with the track rapidly drying, the majority of the field – Jones included – darted to the pit-lane to switch over to slicks at the end of lap one.
 
With some drivers adopting a different strategy, the former European F3 Open Champion slipped to 19th after his second pit-stop, but he dug deep and despite having to contend with a car set up for wet weather, he fought his way through to 13th at the chequered flag to maintain 14th position in the points standings during his maiden campaign at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
Following three back-to-back races, Jones now has a weekend off before returning to the fray for IndyCar’s 2017 season finale at Sonoma Raceway in California on September 15-17.
 
"It was good to go back to a road course, and Watkins Glen is among my favourite tracks in the United States,” reflected the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé. “That said, I knew it would be very different in an IndyCar, and difficult with all the G-forces through the high-speed corners.
 
"We had a decent morning on the first day, but we made some changes for the afternoon that didn't pay off at all and we struggled a lot in the second session. Nothing felt right, so we worked hard and improved the car again for Saturday – although obviously, it still wasn’t quite enough. I think we were a step behind. If the car had been like it was in qualifying in free practice, we would have been able to take another step forward and maybe be a bit further up, but 15th wasn’t too bad.
 
“We knew we could progress from there and move our way forward, but unfortunately, it was a tough race. The conditions didn’t go as we anticipated they would and being set up for rain, we were at quite a disadvantage, which made it tricky. I thought we would still be on for a decent result, but I ended up at the back of the field after my second pit-stop as some drivers were on a different strategy and it was an uphill battle from there. It’s a bit frustrating, but I feel like I drove pretty well and I had some good racing.”

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Jones seals 'Rookie of the Year' spoils at Gateway Motorsports Park

  • Dubai-born Brit secures coveted IndyCar rookie accolade
  • Dale Coyne Racing star fights hard for 13th place in Illinois
  • WH Sports Group protégé back out on-track this weekend


Ed Jones clinched the coveted Verizon IndyCar Series ‘Sunoco Rookie of the Year’ crown at Gateway Motorsports Park last weekend (25/26 August), courtesy of a hard-fought 13th-place finish in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.


The reigning Indy Lights Champion has enjoyed an impressive maiden campaign at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition this year with Dale Coyne Racing, starring with a top three finish in the iconic Indianapolis 500 and invariably holding his own against rivals with far more experience than him – not to mention glittering career CVs.
 
Jones continued to catch the eye by lapping fifth-quickest during free practice on his first visit to the 1.25-mile, egg-shaped Illinois oval. Although he found himself unexpectedly plagued by oversteer in the twilight qualifying session, 12th on the grid amongst the 21 high-calibre contenders represented a very solid starting position as the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace led the charge for DCR at an average speed of 182.9mph – outpacing the likes of heavy-hitters Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay for good measure.
 
The floodlit 248-lap race began under yellow flags following an early spin for one of Jones’ competitors, and once the action belatedly got underway, the 22-year-old Brit advanced a couple of spots. After threatening the top ten for a while, he ultimately took the chequered flag 13th as his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater faded in the closing stages – but that was nonetheless enough to put the destiny of the ‘Rookie of the Year’ laurels beyond doubt.
 
With no time to rest, Jones will return to the fray this coming weekend (1-3 September) for the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen – the penultimate outing on the fiercely-disputed series’ 2017 schedule.
 
“After testing at Gateway earlier this year, I was really excited to go back for the race – they did a tremendous job to get the facility ready to welcome IndyCar,” praised the former European F3 Open Champion. “I really liked the track with the new surface; it’s smooth and a lot of fun to drive, and already one of my favourite ovals.
 
“We knew the weekend might be a little challenging with our short oval aero package, but we had a solid first practice. Unfortunately, the conditions then changed significantly before qualifying with the drop in temperature, and that really made a big difference. We had a bit too much oversteer and I had to save the car from spinning a few times, which killed the speed a bit.
 
“We were still hopeful of being able to move forward from there, but it was a tough race. We ran with a lot of downforce and early on we had some good battles, but later, the pace of the car wasn’t quick enough so it was a bit frustrating. It was a shame I didn’t have the speed at the end, because it was a fantastic event and it was great to see so many fans come out to support us.”

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