INDIANAPOLIS – The racing world is a tough business to be in. Unfortunately, Ed Jones found out the hard way. Jones, wasn’t given much of a chance with Chip Ganassi Racing last year. His rise from Dale Coyne Racing to Ganassi lasted all of 17 races. That’s the nature of this business anymore. Jones, is just another name in a long list of drivers who only got limited opportunities to prove their worth. Luckily, he was able to land back on his feet, albeit a step back in terms of his availability in 2019. Some drivers, well they don’t get so lucky.
Jones though, he at least found a ride for 13 of the 17 races, including the first eight. Despite showing up to the NTT IndyCar Series season with a third different team in as many years, he has high hopes.
He knows his skill set and has been very good on the streets of St. Pete in the past.
“I’m very excited to get going at St. Pete, which will be my first race with Scuderia Corsa and Ed Carpenter Racing,” Jones said ahead of Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete (12:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IndyCar Radio Network). “I’ve had a good record at St. Pete in the past and it’s always nice to return to one of my favorite tracks.”
Jones, really does have a good record on the 1.8-mile street circuit. As a rookie in 2017, he finished 10th for Dale Coyne Racing. Last year for CGR, his first race for the team, he improved to an eighth place finish. Now, if his trend keeps going, he’s set for a sixth place run in the No. 20 Chevrolet. The same one that he will drive on all 12 of the road/street course events in 2019 while Ed Carpenter will drive the five ovals.
Jones says that the preseason testing didn’t go as smoothly as they would have liked, but it also gave them some motivation to keep going.
“We worked through a lot of challenges in preseason testing, but that can sometimes be good as it keeps everyone on their toes and pushing for improvement,” Jones continued.
See, this is really a pressure packed year for him. In 2017, Jones had five top 10 finishes, all in the first 10 races. Included in that was what should have been the Rookie of the Year honors for the Indianapolis 500 in which Jones finished third. Basically, that was a popularity award that year because Fernando Alonso won it instead. Yes, Alonso was quicker all month and even led laps, but he finished 24th.
That led him to a handshake agreement to return to Dale Coyne Racing in 2018. But, in the interim, Chip Ganassi Racing had parted ways with Tony Kanaan and learned that Jones and Coyne didn’t have anything in writing. When Ganassi came calling, it was a no brainer for Jones to listen.
Unfortunately, despite six top 10 finishes in the first 10 races of the year, it wasn’t enough for him to continue on with them in 2019. That led him to ECR in a role he’s betting on himself.
St. Pete has always been good to him and he’s hoping it remains that way on Sunday.