Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Jones has stated that he is “really pleased” with the progress that he has made with Chip Ganassi Racing so far this season after having taken his first podium of the year at last weekend’s 2018 Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The Dubai-born British driver had a poor start to his third race weekend with Chip Ganassi Racing. He put his #10 Honda down in thirteenth place on the grid after having just missed out on a spot in the second session of qualifying; a result that he partly put down to not making the most of the three practice sessions beforehand.
“Long Beach has traditionally been a good circuit for me,” said Jones, who had previously won at the circuit in Indy Lights back in 2015, “It’s an iconic event with a great atmosphere and great fans who give us some fantastic support, so it’s always exciting to go back.
“It obviously wasn’t the start to the weekend we wanted in practice with the NTT Data car. After going one direction in the morning, we took another direction towards what Scott [Dixon] was doing in the afternoon, which left us with some work to do overnight.
“We didn’t have a brilliant qualifying, either – I think my second lap was going to be my quickest, but I made a mistake and missed out on progressing to the next phase of the session by less than a tenth-of-a-second. That was clearly frustrating, but I remained confident we had a good car for Sunday’s race.”
It turns out that Ed’s confidence was not misplaced. After managing to keep out of trouble in the first corner shenanigans that occurred ahead of him, he found himself inside the top ten for the early stages of the race.
The team then decided to put Jones off-sequence with a majority of his competitor’s pit strategies by pitting him early on lap thirteen and opting for a three-stop strategy; one more than expected. The strategy ended up paying off, with his third and final stop taking place just before the third full-course caution that would catch many drivers out.
On the restart, Jones found himself up into fourth place, which soon became third when his team-mate Scott Dixon was awarded a drive-through penalty for entering pit-lane whilst it was closed.
From there, Jones fended off a late challenge from Andretti Autosport‘s rookie Zach Veach to finish in a fantastic third place; his first podium whilst racing for Chip Ganassi Racing and his second-career podium in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“From where we were on the grid, we knew we would need to try something a bit different tactically and hope for a lucky break with the yellows,” continued Ed, “and that’s exactly what happened, although it was certainly tough out there because we struggled on cold tyres. Once we got heat into them, it was better and all credit to the Ganassi guys – my crew did an amazing job in the pits and our bold strategy really paid off.”
For Jones, the result was a great way to bounce back after a poor race the week before in the Grand Prix of Phoenix, when he had been in contention for a podium until he hit the wall in the closing stages. He now hopes that his first podium with Chip Ganassi will open the floodgates for more strong results to follow:
“I let the boys down in Phoenix,” said Jones, “So it was fantastic to be able to make it up to them with a podium finish – hopefully the first of many.
“I’m really pleased with the progress we’re making together as a team, and this gives us all a lot of confidence moving forward. We have a huge amount of potential with our programme, so now we need to keep building upon this positive momentum.”
Ed Jones and Chip Ganassi Racing’s next opportunity to try and continue their momentum will be this weekend. The 2018 Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park takes place on April 22.