Dale Coyne believes his driver Ed Jones did enough to be Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, but was surprised that Fernando Alonso was awarded the accolade instead.
Jones started eleventh but finished a remarkable third for Dale Coyne Racing, despite dropping to the back of the field early on after being forced to pit for a new rear wing after hitting debris, while Alonso started fifth and led twenty-seven laps before retiring his McLaren Honda Andretti machine due to a Honda engine failure.
“Who votes for these things?” said Coyne on Racer.com. “I listened to all the Indianapolis radio and television stations and they all said Ed will get it and he deserved to get it.
“Had Ed finished out of the top 10 and Alonso had his 24th I would not be upset, but Ed finished third – what in Europe is known as a podium finish. At minimum Ed deserves co-rookie of the year.
“Consider the facts of Ed’s performance. One, he was faster than Alonso on many days, Tuesday practice day, Wednesday he did not run because of the wind, Sunday practice Ed was P1 and P2 on Monday the full tank day a full 2 mph faster than Alonso.
“Ed ran the fifth-fastest lap of the race, Alonso ran the 13th fastest. Ed had to drive back to the front in the race after collecting debris from the Dixon crash and falling all the way to back of the grid.
“This race is always won in the last stint, and we ran conservatively but strongly enough to be in touch at the end. In the last stint as Ed was moving forward, Alonso tried to pass Ed, but could not and fell backward before losing his engine while running eighth and Ed was in fourth.”
Coyne felt that without damage to Jones’ front nosecone, he would have been fighting for the win with Takuma Sato and Helio Castroneves towards the end of the race, but the additional drag on the car hurt his straight-line speed.
“The most unfortunate thing for Ed, was the loss of is front nose cap which created a great deal of drag down the straights,” said Coyne. “Ed’s comments after the race was that he was faster than those two guys (Castroneves and Sato) in the corners but could not catch them in the straights.
“I do not want to take anything away form Alonso, as he did a great job, but Ed Jones had a legitimate chance to win the race and did finish third. He should have received the accolades a rookie with this type of performance deserves, Rookie of the Year.”