Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ed Jones says he’s “settling in well” with his new team ahead of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. The UAE-born British driver, who made his series debut last year with Dale Coyne Racing, will join Ganassi for his sophomore season and is now targeting race wins with his new squad.
Jones will partner four-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in a two-car effort from Ganassi, the first time since 2010 that Ganassi has not fielded four full-time cars in the series.
“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.
Jones made his IndyCar series debut last year for Dale Coyne Racing after having taken the championship victory in the Indy Lights feeder series in 2016. He made a successful transition from Indy Lights to IndyCar, taking rookie of the year honours and fourteenth place in the championship standings. His best finish was a superb third place finish in the Indianapolis 500. Jones knows that whilst his results were solid in his first year, his second year will need a marked step up to meet his and the team’s expectations.
“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,” Jones continued, “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.”
Jones was one of many IndyCar Series drivers who got their first taste of the new-for-2018 cars during pre-season testing at Sebring International Raceway last week. Jones was one of the drivers who were more complimentary of the new challenges of the lower-downforce aero package and is now looking forward to the racing that the new package will produce:
“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.
Jones will have a few more days of pre-season testing to get further acclimatized with the Chip Ganassi team ahead of his race debut at the season-opening Grand Prix of St Petersburg on March 11.