Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Jones has stated that, despite retiring from last weekend’s Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway in the closing stages, he is pleased that he was able to run with the leaders in only his second race for Chip Ganassi Racing. The Dubai-born British driver hit the wall with just under thirty laps remaining of the race, but he had been running solidly at the front and had been in contention for at least a podium until that point.
Jones’ first race with CGR, the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, last month, yielded an eighth-place finish. Last year, Jones’ best finish of his rookie season had come at the Indianapolis 500 where he finished second. Throughout last year, Jones looked to be at his best on the ovals and this seems to have continued into this year.
“It had been almost a month since St. Pete, so I was excited to be back in the No.10 NTT Data car for Phoenix,” Jones said, “We had a great test there earlier in the year where our car had been really strong, and I was looking forward to seeing how everything would work out racing under the lights in oval trim.”
Although he only qualified eleventh out of the twenty-three competitors, Jones soon began to make up positions when the green flag was waved. He was soon up into the top ten, and after the yellow flag pit-stops, his Chip Ganassi crew had put him up into fifth. Much of his race was spent battling series veterans such as Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay and eventual race winner Josef Newgarden. He even managed to find himself up into second place with forty laps remaining, after yet another fantastic pit-stop from his team.
Sadly, Ed’s race would end not long after that. The handling of his #10 Honda began to go awry, eventually resulting in Jones hitting the outside wall whilst trying to lap another car. Despite the disappointing end to the race, Jones was pleased with how he, the team and his car performed during the tough second race of the season:
“Phoenix was a long, very challenging race, as we had fully anticipated, but the car actually handled a little better than expected, tyre degradation wasn’t too bad and the CGR guys gave Scott and myself probably the best pit-stops in the field, which allowed us to gain ground – every time we came in, we made up positions,” Jones said in a team release,
“We were having a great run in second and I was just trying not to take any risks, but then with barely 20 laps to go, I turned into the corner and the car went straight up into the wall – there was nothing I could do to save it. It was a big hit, and super frustrating because the NTT Data car was amazingly quick.
“On the one hand, I’m obviously upset with the mistake I made, but on the other hand, it was great for myself and the team to be fighting for the win in only our second race together. That gives us a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, and I’m looking forward to making further improvements at Long Beach.”
Jones will next be in action in this weekend’s third round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which takes place on April 15.