Jones signs off sophomore IndyCar season with top ten finish at Sonoma

  • Chip Ganassi Racing ace enjoys strong end to second IndyCar campaign
  • Dubai-born Brit races to eighth top ten finish of 2018 in California
  • 23-year-old pulls off eye-catching overtakes in distinctive NTT DATA car


Ed Jones took the fight to some of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ biggest names in the 2018 finale at Sonoma Raceway last weekend (14-16 September), speeding to an eighth top ten finish of his sophomore season at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition to cap a campaign that he describes as encouraging and frustrating in equal measure.
 
From the moment his No.10 NTT DATA car rolled off the truck and onto the track at Sonoma, the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace was in the mix. He duly lapped inside the top seven amongst the 25 high-calibre contenders in both of Friday’s practice sessions – not far adrift of Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Scott Dixon, a previous pole-sitter and three-time winner around the 2.385-mile California road course, and the third-most successful driver in IndyCar history.
 
Qualifying, unfortunately, did not reward that potential, as a strategic gamble left Jones a disappointed and unrepresentative 14th on the starting grid for Sunday’s fiercely-disputed Grand Prix of Sonoma – a double points-paying contest to conclude the campaign.
 
Undeterred, an impressively assertive opening lap saw the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ immediately gain three spots to 11th, and courtesy of a strong and consistent turn-of-speed, Jones was up to eighth by the time the first round of pit-stops had shaken out – sandwiched in-between former title-winners Sébastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden.
 
After pulling off eye-catching overtaking moves on Graham Rahal and Newgarden – the latter the qualifying lap record-holder at the track – Jones rose as high as second behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater before making his final pit-stop with 20 laps remaining, following which he continued to push hard to take the chequered flag in tenth position. That secured the 23-year-old Brit 13th spot in the overall standings – an improvement on 2017.
 
As he reflects upon the race and the season as a whole, Jones can look back at a year of highs and lows, podiums and punctures – but above all, plenty learned and tremendous promise for the future.
 
“I really wanted to end 2018 on a high,” acknowledged the 2013 European F3 Open Champion, who is being coached by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “P6 in first practice was an encouraging way to begin, but qualifying was super frustrating. We had a car that was quick enough to progress – potentially even as far as the Firestone Fast Six – but instead of being up at the sharp end of the grid, we wound up well outside the top ten at a circuit where passing is notoriously tricky.
 
“The race itself went reasonably well. I got a good start and was able to make a few satisfying overtakes, and whilst we perhaps struggled a bit more with tyre degradation than some of our rivals, I feel we got the maximum out of the situation and it was good to sign off the season with another top ten.
 
“It’s been a difficult year on the whole. We’ve had some very good runs but we’ve also been extremely unlucky, with several things that didn’t go our way and six races where we haemorrhaged points due to reasons ranging from punctures to mechanical issues and a couple of crashes – one of them while I was running second close to the end. Without that, I’m fairly confident we would have finished inside the top eight in the drivers’ table, and when you consider that six of the top seven overall are former champions, that would have been a pretty decent outcome.
 
“On the positive side, I’ve learned so much from working alongside both Scott and Dario and the opportunity to draw upon their wealth of combined experience – and I’m a stronger driver for that. At the end of the day, Scott is the benchmark in IndyCar racing – as he has proven again this year – so to have out-qualified him five times in the same car and beaten him in a straight fight in Detroit was extremely rewarding, because not many people get the better of him.
 
“It takes time to adapt when you move to a new team, but I’m more comfortable at Ganassi now than I’ve ever been and really feel at home, and all-told, I’m happy with my performance – when I’ve had a trouble-free weekend, I think I’ve shown what I can do.
 
“Congratulations to Scott on winning the championship for a fifth time – that’s some achievement and thoroughly well-deserved after all the hard work that has gone into it. Thanks, finally, to NTT DATA for all the support this year. I’m very fortunate to have such a great brand and group of people behind-the-scenes that make it all feel like a family – not to mention, of course, the best-looking car in the field...”

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Jones' promising Portland pace undone by opening lap misfortune

  • Dubai-born Brit out-qualifies championship-leading team-mate for fifth time in 2018
  • Chip Ganassi Racing ace innocent victim in clash between two other drivers
  • 23-year-old determined to sign off sophomore IndyCar season in style at Sonoma


Ed Jones produced Scott Dixon-beating pace in the penultimate round of the fiercely-disputed Verizon IndyCar Series at Portland International Raceway last weekend (30 August - 2 September), but the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace was denied the opportunity to convert that into a strong result after getting caught up in somebody else’s incident on the opening lap of the race.
 
The Grand Prix of Portland marked IndyCar’s return to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in more than a decade, with all drivers taking part in a pre-event test to either familiarise or re-familiarise themselves with the 12-turn, 1.964-mile permanent road course. Putting a total of 57 laps on the board, Jones wound up eighth-quickest amongst the 25 high-calibre protagonists – just over a third-of-a-second shy of the outright benchmark.
 
The 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ remained in or around the top ten throughout free practice in Oregon – always well within striking distance of Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Dixon. He then proceeded to out-qualify the New Zealander by more than two tenths-of-a-second to secure eighth spot on the starting grid for the race, breaking the lap record along the way with the fastest time of anybody in the first phase of the knockout session.
 
Not only is Dixon the current championship leader, but he is a four-time title-winner and – with 44 victories on his career CV – the third-most successful IndyCar driver ever, making Jones’ performance in equal machinery all the more impressive.
 
With a large crowd lining the circuit banking, the 23-year-old Brit was optimistic of a competitive showing the following day, but his race unfortunately did not last more than the opening sequence of corners, as he found himself collected in a multi-car accident sparked by a collision between James Hinchcliffe and Zach Veach immediately ahead. In the ensuing pile-up, the car of Marco Andretti flew over the top of Jones’ 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater – thankfully without any injuries.
 
The same, however, could not be said for the No.10 NTT DATA entry, with suspension damage forcing Jones out of contention on the spot. He is now fully focussed on signing off his sophomore season at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition in style in the 2018 finale at Sonoma Raceway, California on 16 September.
 
“It was another weekend that sums up our year so far,” rued the former European F3 Open title-holder, who is being coached by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “IndyCar has a long history at Portland, and it was good to see that tradition return but things didn’t go our way again.
 
“I wasn’t happy in practice; we weren’t where we needed to be, but we worked hard overnight to ensure the NTT DATA car would be further up the speed chart in qualifying, which was a tough session. We were quickest in the first group in round one, which was obviously good, but after that, I think with the way the track played out we went the wrong way on the balance and that hurt us. It left us battling too much understeer in the second session, and we didn’t quite have enough to advance to the Firestone Fast Six.
 
“Then in the race, I was simply caught up in a lap one crash that I had no chance of avoiding. It looked like Veach and Hinchcliffe were side-by-side going into Turn Two and Veach just turned right into him like he wasn’t there. He didn’t give any room and it caused a huge shunt. Andretti flew over my head and maybe even nicked my helmet.
 
“I’m just glad Marco was ok and no-one got hurt in all that. I’m ok too, but really disappointed for the NTT DATA crew. We were in strong shape and hoped we would be up at the sharp end in the race. Now we move on to Sonoma, and I’m confident we can make something happen there.”

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Jones shines under the spotlights with podium-challenging Gateway run

  • Dubai-born Brit threatens top three finish in Illinois
  • Ganassi ace takes the fight to IndyCar’s heavy-hitters
  • 23-year-old showcases spectacular overtaking skills


Ed Jones rolled the dice in last weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park – round 15 of 17 on the fiercely-disputed Verizon IndyCar Series calendar – and whilst his late podium bid didn’t quite come off under the Illinois floodlights, he nonetheless dug deep to tally a seventh top ten finish of the 2018 campaign.
 
Unlike many of its rivals, Chip Ganassi Racing did not test at the 1.25-mile St. Louis oval earlier this year, meaning IndyCar sophomore Jones headed into the weekend somewhat on the back foot. Impressively undeterred, the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace was immediately on the pace behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, lapping fifth-quickest amongst the 21 high-calibre contenders in FP1 – a session repeatedly interrupted by rain that left puddles of standing water at the entry to the pit-lane.
 
With the elements playing havoc with the track schedule, qualifying was cancelled in favour of a longer final practice to allow drivers and teams more time to dial their cars in for the following evening’s 248-lap race. Jones improved to fourth in that session – just two places behind championship-leading CGR stablemate Scott Dixon, the third-most successful driver in IndyCar history – and he duly went into the next day in confident mood.
 
“It obviously wasn’t the situation anyone wanted with the weather, but that’s what we were dealt,” mused the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’. “The No.10 NTT DATA car was fast, and I was really pleased with that given we were one of the few teams that didn’t take part in the Gateway test.
 
“It was super frustrating losing another opportunity to start up front, but in the running we had, we were able to make moves and pass cars so I was determined to fight my way through in the race.”
 
The field lined up for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 in championship order, meaning Jones took the start from 12th position but he gained three spots straightaway and soon settled into seventh, chasing former champions Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
 
Breaking away from the pursuing pack and pegging leader Dixon for pace – at one stage posting the fastest lap of anybody at an average speed of 177.362mph – the erstwhile European F3 Open Champion went on a charge. Pulling off a series of spectacular overtakes, he scythed his way boldly past Pagenaud, defending title-holder and Gateway race-winner Josef Newgarden and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, before latching right onto his team-mate’s tail.
 
A late splash ‘n’ dash fuel top-up with 22 laps to go dropped Jones to tenth, from where he battled back to eighth at the chequered flag – having spent the majority of the race running in close company with some of the biggest names in US open-wheel competition.
 
“We had decent pace, and if qualifying had gone ahead, I’m confident we would have been in the top five throughout,” reflected the 23-year-old Brit, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
 
“It’s tricky to pass at this track, but we made the most of what we had. I even climbed up to third at one point but when we caught the backmarkers, I got pushed a bit high and lost a lot of grip on the ‘marbles’. It wasn’t a bad result for the NTT DATA Car considering we started 12th, but for sure I think there was more in there.”
 
Jones will return to the fray this weekend (30 August - 2 September) for the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway, the penultimate round on IndyCar’s 2018 schedule.

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Jones endures tricky weekend as Pocono lives up to its name

  • Dubai-born Brit denied opportunity to fight for strong finish in Pennsylvania
  • Chip Ganassi Racing ace left on back foot after picking up debris at start
  • Quick turnaround before next outing at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday


Pocono Raceway is known in Verizon IndyCar Series circles as the ‘Tricky Triangle’ due to its challenging and unforgiving nature, and for Ed Jones, it more than lived up to that notorious moniker last weekend (18/19 August), as misfortune denied the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace a strong finish.
 
Competing for Chip Ganassi Racing in his sophomore season at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition, Jones has been consistently on the pace in 2018 but all-too-often out of luck behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater – and Pocono would serve up a similar story.
 
The unique, 2.5-mile triangular Pennsylvania oval played host to the 14th round of the campaign, and the former Indy Lights Champion and reigning IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ overcame understeer to lap at an average speed of 216.547mph in qualifying, thereby putting the No.10 NTT DATA entry 12th on the grid amongst the 22 high-calibre contenders for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500.
 
That placed Jones ahead of the likes of championship-leading team-mate Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan – the most experienced driver in the current field – and oval specialist Ed Carpenter, and right behind 2017 pole-sitter Takuma Sato.
 
A long, punishing, 200-lap race lay in wait – although nobody could have predicted just how punishing it would be. A start-line collision towards the back of the pack instantly precipitated a full course caution, and at the second attempt to get proceedings underway, contact between Robert Wickens and Ryan Hunter-Reay sent the former spinning through the air and into the catch-fencing, bringing out the red flags.
 
Thankfully extricated from his car awake and alert, the Canadian was subsequently airlifted to hospital, where he is being treated for injuries to his lower extremities, right arm and spine as well as a pulmonary contusion.
 
Following a two-hour delay, Jones was due to take the re-start from eighth position, but he was immediately forced to pit to allow the Ganassi crew to replace his front wing and repair damage caused by debris from the accident. With teams not permitted to work on the cars under red flag conditions, the setback cost the 23-year-old Brit a lap in relation to the vast majority of his rivals, leaving him down in 15th and playing catch-up throughout.
 
Thereafter, he was routinely one of the quickest drivers on the circuit and ultimately regained three places to cross the chequered flag 12th, with a late charge bringing him to within a second of the driver ahead in 11th. A better fastest lap than four-time title-holder and erstwhile Pocono winner Dixon – who eventually finished third – proved Jones’ potential and what might have been.
 
The result nonetheless elevated the 2013 European F3 Open Champion a spot in the overall standings as he switches his focus now to the next outing on the fiercely-disputed IndyCar schedule – the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Illionois’ Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday, 25 August.
 
“Pocono is one of the toughest ovals you’re ever going to encounter,” reflected Jones, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “It’s nicknamed the ‘Tricky Triangle’, which really sums it up and I was looking forward to the challenge – especially after two weekends away from the track.
 
“You’re always a little disappointed when you don’t line up near the front of the grid, but both CGR cars struggled a bit in qualifying – and with the final practice session being rained off, we didn’t get a lot of pre-race track time over the weekend, which limited the improvements we could make to the NTT DATA entry.
 
“The start of the race was pretty crazy, but we made it through. Obviously, we sat and waited for a while after the accident and it was great to hear the positive news on Robert [Wickens]. We picked up some damage and had to make repairs when we got going again. We went laps down after that, and from there just tried to adjust the NTT DATA car the best we could to get the most out of it.”

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Jones looking forward to change of fortunes after luckless Mid-Ohio weekend

  • Dubai-born Brit quick but out-of-luck in Honda Indy 200
  • Puncture denies Ganassi ace top ten finish
  • 23-year-old vows to ‘come back stronger’ at Pocono


Ed Jones is eager to banish the bad luck that has dogged him in recent weeks when the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series resumes in Pennsylvania next month, after seeing his strong turn-of-speed again scuppered by ill-fortune last weekend in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (27-29 July).
 
When Lady Luck has been on his side, Jones has impressed during his sophomore campaign at the fiercely-disputed pinnacle of US open-wheel competition, tallying six top ten finishes – including a brace of podiums – for Chip Ganassi Racing.
 
The 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ looked primed for another eye-catching result at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – a challenging 13-turn, 2.258-mile road circuit characterised by sequences of fast, flowing corners each leading into the next.
 
In the first free practice session, Jones lapped sixth-quickest amongst the 24 high-calibre protagonists behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, less than six hundredths-of-a-second adrift of four-time title-winning team-mate Scott Dixon – the third-most successful IndyCar driver in history and a man with five previous Mid-Ohio victories to his name, a record in the sport.
 
The talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace maintained that encouraging form with eighth position in FP2 – once more right on Dixon’s heels – and he was on-course to progress through to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying when the red flags flew late on for an accident involving another car. That spelt a premature end to the action and restricted him to a disappointed 11th on the starting grid, around a circuit where overtaking opportunities are famously few-and-far-between.
 
“Mid-Ohio is a very difficult track,” Jones acknowledged. “Qualifying is extremely important there and one of the biggest keys to a great race. Having tested at the circuit the previous week, we came out-of-the-blocks fast with the No.10 DC Solar Honda in practice, with both Ganassi cars unloading well and showing good speed.
 
“That represented a really positive start and left us feeling optimistic for the rest of the weekend. We spent a lot of time focussed on trying to get into the ‘Fast Six’ in qualifying and were on a lap that was quick enough to achieve that when the late red flag came out. That was a tough break, because we had great pace and it’s frustrating when you know you have a fast car that can get you through to the next round but circumstances outside of your control keep you out.”
 
The former European F3 Open Champion made a bright start to the 90-lap race, but found himself baulked on the first lap and then further delayed by a spinning car ahead on lap two. He nonetheless advanced to ninth position early on, pushing hard and notably engaging in an entertaining wheel-to-wheel duel with six-time race-winner James Hinchcliffe.
 
Jones was running just outside the top ten and matching the leader for pace at mid-distance when he was forced to make an unscheduled pit visit to replace a punctured tyre, putting him a lap down. With no caution periods to help him regain ground, he went on to take the chequered flag 15th. A better fastest lap than the race-winner – and, indeed, three of the top four finishers – hinted at what might have been had he enjoyed a trouble-free weekend.
 
“It was a frustrating day for the DC Solar team,” reflected the 23-year-old Brit, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “I think we had the pace and we should have been around seventh or eighth, but we made a call on strategy and got on what proved to be the wrong tyres. Unfortunately, everything we did from that point on made the race worse for us.
 
“To compound the situation, we then also picked up a puncture. It just seems like everything has gone against us recently no matter what we try to do, and that makes it look a lot worse than it is. Surely things will change around and we will come back stronger.”
 
Jones will return to the track on 18/19 August for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, the 14th of 17 races on the 2018 IndyCar calendar.

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