Jones fights through the field on challenging Canadian weekend

  • Dubai-born Brit battles back from early delay on streets of Toronto
  • Chip Ganassi Racing ace puts more points on the board on difficult weekend
  • IndyCar sophomore duels wheel-to-wheel with defending champion

Ed Jones had to dig deep in yesterday’s Honda Indy Toronto (15 July), fighting hard to take the chequered flag nine places higher than he started on a gruelling day around the streets of the Canadian city.
 
Verizon IndyCar Series sophomore Jones boasts an excellent street circuit record and having finished on the podium in Toronto on his way up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder in Indy Lights, he returned in optimistic mood.
 
“I was really looking forward to the weekend,” acknowledged the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “We were very quick in the last two street races in Detroit, and – Iowa aside – we arrived off the back of a positive recent run of results in the NTT DATA car, so the aim was to continue that good form.”
 
Jones lapped inside the top ten from the outset in the high-calibre, 23-strong field, focussing his free practice efforts on fine-tuning the set-up of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater to adapt to the ever-changing conditions and cope with the bumps that famously characterise the demanding 11-turn, 1.786-mile track – scene of the second longest-running street race in IndyCar history.
 
Another top ten performance in the final practice session – less than a quarter-of-a-second adrift of championship-leading Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Scott Dixon, four times a title-winner at the fiercely-disputed pinnacle of US open-wheel competition – left the 23-year-old Brit feeling bullish about his prospects for qualifying, but the weather had other ideas.
 
The combination of rain and a fully dry set-up on the No.10 NTT DATA entry resulted in contact with the unforgiving barriers, costing Jones both his front wing and two fastest laps and restricting him to just 21st on the grid for the following day’s 85-lap contest – unaccustomed territory indeed.
 
Undeterred, the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ proved his potential with the sixth-best time in Sunday morning’s pre-race warm-up, before making a feisty start to rise four spots to 17th on the opening tour, subsequently picking up another place when a driver ahead made a mistake on lap five.
 
Swiftly settling into a multi-car scrap over 13th, Jones opted to make an off-sequence first pit-stop on lap 14 in a bid to leapfrog his immediate rivals around a circuit where overtaking is notoriously tricky, but a stalled engine cost him more than half-a-minute and dropped him to the tail of the pack.
 
Narrowly avoiding going a lap down, the former European F3 Open Champion confidently kept the race leader behind him in evidence of his raw pace and pushed hard to regain ground. Deftly navigating his way past a first corner mêlée not long before mid-distance – in which he came within literally inches of being wiped out – Jones went on to duel wheel-to-wheel with defending champion Josef Newgarden and former Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi. He had closed to within sight of a top ten finish by the chequered flag and ultimately flashed across the line in 12th at the end of a hot, humid and physically punishing encounter.
 
“That wasn’t the weekend we wanted,” he candidly reflected. “I was happy with the way we unloaded with the NTT DATA car in free practice, but qualifying was a tough one for us. It was the first time we had run in the wet all weekend and while the No.9 team elected to go with a full wet set-up, we went full dry. It obviously started raining, and we struggled for traction.
 
“On my lap, I just lost the rear end and there was nothing I could do about it. That was super frustrating, as we had time in the car to advance for sure. It left us with a lot of work to do in the race, but we knew we had good speed and we were well up for the fight.
 
“Unfortunately, however, things just didn’t seem to go our way again. With some early pit-stop strategy and the way the race played out we were able to make up nine positions, but we wanted more than that. Hopefully we can come back stronger at Mid-Ohio in a few weeks.”
 
The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be the 13th of 17 outings on the 2018 IndyCar schedule and takes place on 27-29 July.

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Jones showcases overtaking prowess on tyre-ing day in Iowa

  • Dubai-born Brit produces 69 overtaking moves in a single race
  • Tyre degradation restricts IndyCar sophomore to 13th-place finish
  • Qualifying form proves pace around tough, bullring-style oval


Ed Jones unleashed an impressively feisty performance in last weekend’s Iowa Corn 300 (8 July) – the 11th of 17 races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar – as he pulled off almost 70 overtaking moves on a day when extreme tyre degradation cost him a significantly higher finish.
 
Jones headed to Iowa Speedway – a 0.894-mile, high-banked oval characterised by intense G-forces and unforgiving bumps and dubbed the ‘fastest short track on the planet’ – off the back of four consecutive top ten results at the fiercely-disputed pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
What’s more, the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace boasted an excellent previous record around the small bullring-style venue, having tallied a brace of podiums, a pole position and a fastest lap there in Indy Lights in 2015/16. He duly returned to Iowa in upbeat mood – albeit having been unable to participate in a group test at the circuit last month attended by 13 of his 21 high-calibre rivals.
 
Jones shrugged off that disadvantage to place tenth in the opening free practice session on Saturday, before posting a two-lap average speed of 178.720mph to line up eighth on the grid for the 300-lap race – just two spots and barely a tenth-of-a-second-per-lap adrift of Chip Ganassi Racing stablemate Scott Dixon, the qualifying record-holder at the track.
 
Behind the wheel of his NTT DATA-backed, 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ subsequently improved again to sixth in final practice, leaving him feeling positive about his race day prospects.
 
“Iowa is a very challenging track,” he acknowledged, “and to add to that challenge, it was quite a bit bumpier than last season. Having not tested there like some of the other teams did recently and with less downforce on the cars this year, the learning curve was definitely steeper.
 
“The balance that we had on the car made it a bit loose on corner entry, which was a little tricky on our qualifying laps. On both of them, I kind of lost the front end and had to chase it a bit. It wasn’t ideal, but we gave it our best and we were optimistic the No.10 DC Solar car would be strong in race trim.”
 
The biggest talking point ahead of the race was tyre wear, with the new universal aero kit that IndyCar implemented at the beginning of this season resulting in considerably more slides than usual throughout practice and qualifying. It was a factor that would have a sizeable impact on the eventual outcome.
 
Jones confidently held position in the early stages, right in the wheeltracks of his championship-leading, four-time title-winning team-mate, but the first warning signs came when he was obliged to pit earlier than anticipated on lap 57, his grip having all-but disappeared due to persistent oversteer that left him barely hanging on.
 
Following a front wing adjustment, the former European F3 Open Champion battled gamely back and had scythed his way through from 19th up to seventh by lap 86. He would produce an astonishing 69 passes in total – a figure bettered only by the race-winner – but four further pit-stops to replace his worn tyres restricted Jones to a frustrated 13th at the chequered flag, one spot behind Dixon and again with little to choose between the pair in terms of fastest laps.
 
“It was a tough day in the DC Solar car,” acknowledged the 23-year-old Brit, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “The Ganassi boys did a mega job in practice and qualifying and I felt comfortable in the car for the race, but unfortunately the tyre degradation was much greater than we had expected. I think looking at the results, the teams that tested at Iowa last month really had the upper hand.”
 
Jones will return to the fray this coming weekend for the Honda Indy Toronto on the downtown streets of the Canadian city (14/15 July).

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Jones maintains upward momentum with Road America top ten charge

  • Ganassi ace fights to fourth top ten finish in swift succession
  • Dubai-born Brit forced to battle up the order following early setback
  • 2017 ‘Rookie of the Year’ proudly sports new First Data livery

Ed Jones claimed the sixth top ten finish of his sophomore Verizon IndyCar Series campaign – and fourth in swift succession – at Road America last weekend (23/24 June), but the Chip Ganassi Racing star was made to work hard for it after an opening lap delay dropped him down the order and set the stage for an eye-catching recovery effort.
 
Universally popular amongst drivers, Road America is a 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, boasting a long and illustrious history and posing a stern challenge to competitors. Having clinched pole position there two years ago on his way up the ladder in Indy Lights and wound up seventh last season as an IndyCar rookie, Jones returned with a strong record and a new partnership with global commerce-enabling technology leader First Data.
 
After initially struggling for speed behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace and his crew focussed specifically on aero balance, and consistent progression saw Jones gain more than a second in lap time between the first free practice session and qualifying.
 
That secured the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ 12th on the grid amongst the 23 high-calibre contenders, less than two tenths-of-a-second shy of Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon – the defending race-winner, current championship leader and a man with no fewer than four titles to his credit at the fiercely-disputed pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
“Road America is one of my favourite tracks on the IndyCar schedule,” acknowledged Jones. “The team was refreshed and ready to attack following a weekend off, and the guys on the First Data car worked hard and made some great changes after we were missing something in practice. I was a lot more confident in qualifying and felt we were going in the right direction. Indeed, without getting held up, I think we would have been capable of advancing into the ‘Firestone Fast Six’.”
 
The 23-year-old Brit duly entered the following day’s 55-lap KOHLER Grand Prix in optimistic mood. After falling to 17th at the start when Will Power suddenly and unexpectedly slowed – inadvertently boxing the No.10 car in – he immediately set about fighting back and within five laps had impressively regained all of the lost ground. Making the most of a three-stop strategy, Jones rose as high as seventh and featured up towards the sharp end throughout, ultimately flashing past the chequered flag in ninth position.
 
That marked the former European F3 Open Champion’s 11th career top ten finish from 27 races, consolidating 12th spot in the overall standings ahead of the next outing on the 2018 calendar – a return to oval competition – at Iowa Speedway on 8 July.
 
“It was a tough start to the race,” reflected Jones, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “We kind of got sandwiched in when one of the cars ahead had an engine issue, which meant my side of the grid got stacked up and I had nowhere to go.
 
“That dropped us down the order and cost us a ton of track position which was hard to get back, but the First Data car was really fast and we were able to pass a lot of people over the remaining laps. The team did a good job in the pits, and we’ll keep fighting and moving forward. It’s been a great last few races for Ganassi, and that shows we have the speed we need to win and compete at the front.”

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Jones tallies another top ten finish under Texas floodlights

  • Chip Ganassi Racing ace maintains mid-season momentum in ‘Lone Star State’
  • Dubai-born Brit survives fast-paced, physical contest for solid points haul
  • IndyCar sophomore showcases raw speed at sponsor NTT DATA’s home event

Ed Jones fought hard to tally the fifth top ten finish of his sophomore Verizon IndyCar Series campaign at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend (8/9 June), continuing a positive recent run for the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace at the fiercely-disputed pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
Jones travelled to the 1.5-mile, high-banked superspeedway buoyed by a brilliant rostrum result on the streets of Detroit a week earlier. The Chip Ganassi Racing star lapped tenth-quickest amongst the 22 high-calibre protagonists in the first free practice session, before conquering sweltering midday conditions – with the track temperature surpassing 130 degrees Fahrenheit – to average 218.120mph in qualifying.
 
That was sufficient to put the No.10 NTT DATA car 13th on the grid for the following evening’s 248-lap DXC Technology 600 – the third of six oval races on the 2018 IndyCar calendar and the midway point of the season – barely a tenth-of-a-second-a-lap adrift of four-time title-winning team-mate Scott Dixon.
 
Jones improved to ninth in night-time final practice – posting the fourth-fastest non-tow speed, which calculates outright pace – but when the race blasted into life under the Texas spotlights, he initially found himself struggling for balance behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater.
 
That prompted an earlier-than-scheduled first pit-stop to make several tweaks to the wing, which dropped the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ to the very foot of the top 20. He pitted again on lap 71 for an air pressure adjustment, but progressively battled his way back through the field and even briefly hit the front just past half-distance – one of only seven drivers to lead a lap – before making his third pit visit.
 
By lap 138, Jones was the quickest driver on the track and he was running inside the top ten when the yellow flags flew once more on lap 173 for a two-car accident. The 23-year-old Brit rose as high as seventh in the closing stages, but a drive-through penalty for inadvertently jumping the re-start – one of three competitors to fall foul of the officials in that respect – restricted him to ninth at the chequered flag.
 
That nevertheless secured Jones another solid points haul to consolidate his grasp on 12th spot in the overall standings ahead of the next outing on 23/24 June – the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, where last year, he finished a highly competitive seventh.
 
“I always love going to Texas Motor Speedway,” enthused the former European F3 Open Champion, who is being coached by multiple IndyCar title-holder and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “It was a big event for our sponsor NTT DATA, and we wanted to put on a great show to give them something to cheer about. Huge thanks to everyone for coming along – they’re an amazing group of people and I’m proud to represent them.
 
“The weekend was a bit different this year, with the change in the amount of downforce we have available. The conditions were a little difficult on the first day too, but I was happy with the NTT DATA car and whilst we just missed the balance slightly in qualifying, we were nonetheless in a good place to go racing.
 
“Unfortunately, in the opening stint, we were still struggling with the balance and that cost us a lot of ground. At the first two pit-stops, we were able to improve the car and we ran really strongly in the middle phase, only for a drive-through penalty and badly-timed yellow to set us back again. It was a tough race, but considering the issues we had, I think we should be pleased to come away with ninth. Congratulations to my team-mate Scott for the win.
 
“I’m very happy with the recent results we’ve achieved, but we know there remains more to be done to elevate us to the next level and with that in mind, I’m already looking forward to Road America. Bring it on!”
 
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Inspired Jones keeps his word as he races to rostrum in Detroit

  • NTT Data-backed star speeds to second podium of sophomore season in ‘Motor City’
  • Ganassi ace unleashes street fighting skills to convert pace into strong points haul
  • Dubai-born Brit praises ‘fantastic’ team effort, aims to maintain momentum in Texas


Ed Jones had promised to come back ‘stronger’ after a hefty impact with the wall prematurely curtailed his Indianapolis 500 bid seven days earlier, and the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace duly delivered in Detroit last weekend (2/3 June), as he sped to his second podium of the season and the third top three finish of his fledgling and increasingly impressive Verizon IndyCar Series career.
 
As the bumpiest and most physically gruelling circuit on the IndyCar calendar, the Raceway at Belle Isle Park was arguably the toughest place to return from an accident that had briefly left Jones hospitalised. What’s more, the Dual in Detroit is the only double-header on the 2018 schedule, with a race each day, and the new-spec car introduced this year requires even more manhandling to coax a competitive lap time out of it around the punishing 2.35-mile, 14-turn lap – without the luxury of power steering.
 
Saying that, the 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ had claimed a top ten finish at the temporary Michigan street course last season, and after working his way methodically through Saturday’s two free practice sessions behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, he put Chip Ganassi Racing’s No.10 NTT Data entry 11th on the grid for the first race amongst the 23 high-calibre contenders – ahead of ultra-experienced big-hitters Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Sébastien Bourdais, title-winners all three.
 
Immediately going on the attack when the green flag dropped, Jones soon advanced into the top ten and latched onto the back of a multi-car scrap over fifth as he lapped faster than the leader in the early stages. Making his softer-compound, less durable red sidewall tyres last all the way to lap 25, he had risen as high as third by the time he peeled into the pits to switch to the ‘primary’ black-sidewall rubber, betraying no ill-effects from his Indianapolis misfortune.
 
After rejoining in ninth, during his second stint, the series sophomore chased down the battle over fourth before pitting again with 24 laps remaining. A brace of late safety car interventions subsequently concertinaed the pack together, and Jones grittily defended his position from former champion and recent Indy 500 winner Will Power and reigning title-holder Josef Newgarden to secure a strong sixth place at the chequered flag.
 
“This track is always difficult,” he reflected, “but it was a great day for the NTT Data car. The guys gave me a really good car in qualifying and although I didn’t get the most out of it there, we were able to make it through the ranks in the race. Big congratulations to my team-mate Scott Dixon for his 42nd IndyCar win. It was a fantastic job by the whole Ganassi team.”
 
The next day dawned wet, but the 2016 Indy Lights Champion demonstrated his versatility and all-weather prowess by scything through the spray in qualifying to seal a career-high fourth on the grid. The track dried out in time for the race, and Jones made an excellent start to pinch third from Power, only for a shuffle later around the opening lap to relegate him to sixth.
 
Recovering to fourth as the first pit-stop phase began, he caught and passed Dixon – the most successful driver in the current field – on lap 13 before pulling away and zeroing in on Power in second as he again set the pace amongst the front-runners. Following his own pit visit, the 23-year-old Brit was back up to third by mid-distance as the various strategies played out, conceding just a single position to eventual winner and 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay after the final round of stops.
 
He regained the place, however, when leader Alexander Rossi ran off-track with six laps to go, thereafter maintaining the pressure on Power – closing to barely a second adrift of his quarry – while simultaneously fending off the ever-present Dixon behind.
 
Defeating his four-time title-winning team-mate in a straight fight, third position equalled Jones’ career-best at the fiercely-disputed pinnacle of US open-wheel competition and vaulted him from 18th up to 12th in the chase for the coveted crown ahead of a return to oval competition this weekend, under the floodlights of Texas Motor Speedway (Saturday, 9 June).
 
“Another brilliant day for the NTT Data team,” enthused the former European F3 Open Champion, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar title-holder and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “The guys really did a great job with the car over the weekend. We started off a bit slow, but the important thing is that we improved with every session and earned our way to the podium.
 
“We had a really good qualifying in tricky conditions on Sunday; I wasn’t sure how the car was going to feel in the wet initially, and it was pretty sketchy for the first few laps but once I got a handle on it, I had a lot of fun out there. That said, the No.10 NTT Data car was awesome in the dry and we wanted a dry race after Scott’s amazing win on Saturday.
 
“Things played out well for us, and while we didn't quite have enough to get by Will [Power], the podium was another step in the right direction and I’m already looking forward to getting back after it at Texas in a few short days. Let’s see if we can’t go a couple of spots better again...”

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