By: Spencer Neff
March 12, 2019 | 8:46 AM
After he won the 2016 Indy Lights Championship with Carlin, Ed Jones moved to what is now the NTT IndyCar Series. In the three years since then Jones has had an up-and-down experience in America’s premier open-wheel series.
Jones broke into IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing in 2017. Highlighted by an impressive third-place finish at the Indianapolis 500, he earned Rookie of the Year honors at season’s end.
The hot start with Coyne rolled into a job with Chip Ganassi Racing for 2018. However, the ride was rocky with CGR and Jones would be replaced by Felix Rosenqvist in the offseason.
Once again, Jones finds himself at a new team to start the season (his third in as many years). For 2019, Ed Carpenter Racing hired the 2017 Rookie of the Year to drive the road and street course races in the No. 20.
When ECR announced Jones’ hiring, the team unveiled an alliance with the fledgling Scuderia Corsa for 2019. Jones was also tabbed for a third ECR entry at the 103rd Indianapolis 500 in May.
With 12 of the 17 (including the first five) NTT IndyCar Series races scheduled on road and street courses, the Dubai native would get his chance early on.
Unfortunately for Jones, his 2019 season and time with ECR got off to a frustrating start at last Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
For the two opening practice sessions on Friday, Jones slotted 22nd and 15th on the time sheets. In the weekend’s third practice, he set the sixth-fastest time of the session. His improvement in each time session left the team optimistic heading into qualifying.
During qualifying, that sense of promise turned sour. In the first group, Jones was unable to reach the top six and would start 15th. Afterwards, Jones lamented the red flags that hampered his efforts.
“Qualifying was super frustrating,” Jones noted. “We weren’t the only ones caught out by the red flags, but what hurts the most is that the team did a fantastic job over last night to improve the car. We were sixth this morning and the car felt great. Unfortunately, no one did a push lap, it was only out lap times.”
Following the underwhelming result in qualifying, Jones placed 18th in Sunday morning’s warm-up. With the frustrations of Friday and Saturday behind him, Jones and his Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa team turned their focus to the 110-lap race.
On Sunday afternoon, things got off to an encouraging start for Jones. He quickly moved up into the top-10. From there, his luck would run out. While running ninth on Lap 26, Jones made contact with the inside wall in Turn 9.
In the midst of Jones’ demise, A.J. Foyt Racing’s Matheus Leist clipped the right-rear of the wrecked No. 20 car, ending his day as well. Jones finished the race with a 21st-place effort.
“It was a frustrating weekend. We had the pace to be at the front in qualifying,” Jones reflected after the race.
“Then today, the guys gave me a great race car. We had to take risks to get forward quickly. I made it from 16th to ninth, then I just tried to get a run on (James) Hinchcliffe and unfortunately, I clipped the inside wall in Turn 9 and that was it. I’m sorry for the team, they did great work and they deserved a better result.”
In addition to the agitation of his DNF, Jones also left St. Petersburg with an injury. After his devastating shunt, he complained of pain in his left hand. From pit road, he was taken for evaluation at the track’s medical center. Later on, Jones told IndyCar Radio he had suffered a broken finger.
Following the race, IndyCar Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows disclosed that Jones suffered a “small non-displaced fracture of his distal fourth metacarpal.” The fourth metacarpal is otherwise known as the ring finger.
At the track, Jones’ hand was splinted before he left. It is also being reported that Jones will consult with a specialist in Miami before continuing any racing-related activities.
The splinting will help Jones’ driving status moving forward. Beyond the injury, Jones is off to a rough start to 2019. However, the 24-year-old has proven before he is more than capable of bouncing back. Look for him to make a splash at Circuit of The Americas.
Header Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR