Rookie Jones believes he had the car to win Indy 500

IndyCar’s only fulltime rookie in 2017, Ed Jones finished third in the 101st Indianapolis 500 but believes he could have won had his Dale Coyne Racing-Honda not suffered damage.

Rookie Jones believes he had the car to win Indy 500
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda pit stop
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Jones, who became Dale Coyne Racing’s best hope for glory after team leader Sebastien Bourdais was injured in qualifying, was battling with eventual winner Takuma Sato and runner-up Helio Castroneves in the closing stages of the race, but found his car had too much drag. This was a legacy of damage incurred in the Scott Dixon/Jay Howard shunt at quarter distance.

Jones, who qualified 11th, explained: “It was a great race for us, I had a great car all month. The whole race was so up and down for us.

“It was a solid start, we were running in the top 10- 11 for most of the first half. Then when Dixon had his crash – thankfully those guys are OK –but I ran over some debris and it damaged the floor and the rear wing.

“We had to change the rear wing and it sent me to the back of the field, then we had to claw our way back up again. We got some luck back with the last yellow as we pitted right before it, so it put us near the front. But then I had some bad luck again, I damaged my front wing [on the back of Zach Veach’s car at Turn 4] and it put a big hole in [the car].

“My legs got pretty cold to be honest. I had wind blowing into them like crazy! It also created a lot of drag. I was really good catching up to the other guys in the corners but as soon as we got to the straights I couldn’t tow up to them. We just lacked that straightline speed for the last 40 laps. It was very hard for me to defend or attack which is frustrating because, we had the car to win today.”

Castroneves, paid tribute to Jones’ maturity and composure during the post-race press conference.

“I have to say he did a very good job,” said the three-time winner. “When we ran side-by-side, he was very smart.

“I have to say that you drove not like a rookie, to be honest, so congrats. You did a good job.”

After thanking the Penske driver for the compliment, Jones added: “I haven't actually done that much running in traffic. I was learning how close you could get, using my tools a lot, more than I have done in the past. Although it looked common or normal for me, I was learning so much every time I was driving, making passes.

“Throughout the race, I actually mixed up quite a bit with Helio. He was the one car where I couldn't really defend from him. I realized he was really quick, especially in traffic.

“It's nice to have that acknowledgment from him. Hopefully we'll be racing for the win next year.”

 

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