ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Broken and beaten, but not defeated.
Ed Jones proved once again that a damaged race car won’t keep the Verizon IndyCar Series rookie from battling with some of the best in the business when he finished seventh Sunday in the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America.
Last month in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, the 22-year-old Dubai-based Brit drove to his first career podium despite missing the cone element on the front of his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. However, that was on a 2.5-mile superspeedway; this most recent result came on a 4.014-mile road course.
“It was a tough race,” said Jones.
“I don’t think we quite had the pace today. Our car was so loose. I was just dancing with the rear the whole time. The guys had great pit stops. The strategy was good and went after the race hard, we had to make some out there.”
Opting for the popular three-stop strategy, the Dale Coyne Racing driver was trailing Tony Kanaan and Alexander Rossi when the pair made contact on Lap 44 through the carousel and Kanaan suffered a hard impact into the barrier at the exit. Debris littered the track and Jones had no choice but to drive through it. His car sustained damage to both the front and rear wings.
A hole in the rear wing brought a new set of unique challenges – and benefits – in the final 11 laps that followed. The loss of downforce made it more precarious traveling through the circuit’s turns but better on the long straightaways.
“Obviously, the Kanaan incident when he crashed, it took quite a bit of my car apart,” said Jones. “It trimmed us out a bit, so I was pretty fast in a straight line at the end there.
(Less downforce in the corners slowed the car) quite a bit, but it was a missile on the straights, like ridiculous.”
Jones was also driving injured and had a noticeable limp after the race, but confessed that it wasn’t from any incident on track.
“My girlfriend dropped her suitcase on my foot last week,” he said. “I thought I broke my toe, but I’m fine now. It’s been really sore the whole week and halfway through the race, every time I would hit the brake pedal, it was like the worst pain ever.
“I couldn’t keep it down. I had to keep lifting on it.”
Despite the pain, Jones knew he had to continue his gritty, hard-nosed racing. He agreed that the level of aggression has picked up throughout the field in the last two events (Texas and Road America).
“Everyone else is really aggressive, so you have to give it back to them,” said Jones, the 2016 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series champion.
Jones’ seventh-place finish is fifth top-10 finish of the season. Now 10th in the championship standings, his goal is to continue building on the results and carrying it over into the next round at Iowa Speedway.
“It’s good momentum,” said Jones. “Obviously, I think there are quite a few races this year that were out of our control and some things went wrong where we couldn’t finish in the top 10. So the car has been pretty strong.
“I think Iowa is going to be really tough. Our team struggled there last year and the Honda package isn’t as good as the Chevy one around there, but we’re testing there (today). Hopefully, we can make some improvements and work from there.”
The Iowa Corn 300 airs live from Iowa Speedway at 5 p.m. ET July 9 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.