Ed Jones hungry for Indy 500 after stunning rookie drive

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What a performance: Dubai-born star Jones.

“I should be up there.” Those were virtually Ed Jones’ first words in his post-Indy 500 press conference after finishing as the fastest rookie and claiming third spot on the podium.

The Dubai-born British driver pointed to the results of the 101st running of the iconic event on a television screen and dropped a hint that he felt he should have been holding the Borg-Warner Trophy.

After producing the best drive of his blossoming career to date in his maiden Indy 500, those five words go a long way to showcasing the determination the Dale Coyne Racing star has to be the absolute best.

Sitting alongside him in front of the world’s media was Helio Castroneves – the experienced three-time winner of the event who had just pipped the UAE resident to second place.

“You are up there, man. Are you kidding? Third place,” the Brazilian, who is 20 years older than Jones, butted in when hearing his fellow driver’s remarks.

While Jones may have been disappointed that he didn’t quite have enough on Sunday to pass eventual champion Takuma Sato at the front of the field, when he takes stock of his performance in Indianapolis – he should be a very proud man indeed.

After all, it’s been some year already for the young driver following his step-up from IndyLights and his championship title last year.

However, when you actually analyse Jones’ race, it’s clear to see why he felt things could have gone differently – especially if fate had been more on his side.

Indeed, after starting fourth row, 11th on the grid, he actually ran over debris during lap 53 that had come from the horrific crash between Jay Howard and Scott Dixon.

Jones revealed that damaged his rear wing and created a hole in the bottom of his car floor, but such was his scintillating drive he managed to get himself neck and neck with Castroneves on lap 184 for a chance to overtake Sato and secure the lead.

That in itself was an incredible effort from the Dubai driver as he climbed from the back of the grid in a race that saw 50 laps run under caution.

He said: “The last yellow, we actually pitted right before it, so it put us near the front. But then I had some back luck again. I actually damaged my front wing, had a big hole in it. My legs got pretty cold, to be honest. I had wind blowing into them like crazy. It created a lot of drag.

“I was really good in the corners catching up to the other cars but it was difficult in the straights. I couldn’t pull up to them. We lacked that straight speed, I’d say, for the last 40 laps. It was really hard for me to defend or even attack, which was really frustrating because I think we had the car to win.

“It’s so frustrating again, I’ve had five podiums or five top 3s on Oval circuits now and I haven’t won one,” Jones added.

“It’s really frustrating not to get one but I’m working my hardest to get it next time. It was big learning process for me.

“Great job to Sato and Helio. I don’t know how many opportunities you get to be in that battle.”

He may not have thought it at the time, but expect there to be many more for Jones.

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Indy 500 Video Diary - The Greatest Spectacle in Racing lives up to billing

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THE BIGGEST SPORTING EVENT

My race day started with a 5am alarm call as myself and media colleagues who travelled to Indianapolis on behalf of ESPN received a police escort to the circuit - with wheels up from 6am.

All teams, commentators, officials and workers staying away from the venue were afforded that luxury given the traffic in the city and the hundreds of thousands of racegoers all heading in one direction to the 500-mile extravaganza.

We were all certainly grateful for the stress-free journey to our press box seats.
Arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - what struck me immediately was the sea of people, everywhere, getting ready for the biggest of days ahead.



It's hard to compare it to any other event - but just imagine attending a big music festival, multiply its size by a 1000 or so and add in engines and cars. From there, you get somewhere close.

It was Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis - an occasion where war veterans are honoured and remembered in the United States. I really enjoyed seeing people come together with pride and happiness to truly do justice to the most important few days in the midwestern state's calendar.

Having been fortunate enough to experience this race, I can safely say it's well and truly up there as one of the most enjoyable sporting days out.

BUZZ OF THE PITLANE

Strolling down the pitlane, taking in the smell of engines getting revved up and the excitement building up to the green flag was something special indeed.

My video (above) should provide you with a first-hand insight of the high doses of energy pulsing through Indianapolis.

ED JONES

One of Dubai's very own did everyone proud by finishing as the fastest rookie.

It was a spellbinding performance from the 22-year-old Brit and the fact he was disappointed not to win the historic race goes a long way to show what kind of character he is.

The Dale Coyne Racing man has a very big future ahead of him and this is just the start I'm sure - it was a pleasure to watch his classy performance on Sunday.

MOMENT OF THE DAY

There were gasps of despair among us journalists when Scott Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing Honda car flew wildly through the air and caught fire after an ugly collision with Britain's Jay Howard.

Fortunately (and remarkably) both drivers emerged unscathed. Don't look at the Tweet below if you're squeamish.




Until next time, thanks Indy!


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Indy 500: Dubai's Ed Jones finishes third, Takuma Sato wins iconic race

Stuart Appleby 29/05/2017
A first Indy 500 victory for Sato.

Dubai-born star Ed Jones produced a stunning rookie performance to finish third at the 101st edition of the Indy 500 in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon.

The 22-year-old, who started 11th in the fourth row, showed skill and know-how that belied his young years as he secured a podium spot for Dale Coyne Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit.

It was an historic drive for Jones on his debut at the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing', with the Brit finishing just behind three-time champion Helio Castroneves in second and overall race winner Takuma Sato.

"It was a great race for me and I've had a great car for the whole past month," Jones, who still has a base in the UAE and is expected to return to the Emirate in September, said. "The race was a learning experience and I gained so much from the drive and how I made passes. Throughout the race I mixed it up quite a bit against Helio but he was the one car I couldn't really defend against. "He was quick but it's great to have acknowledgment from a driver like him that I drove well - hopefully we'll be racing next year (against each other for the title)." Andretti Autosport driver Sato, who started in fourth position on the grid, is the first driver from Japan to triumph in America's historic competition. The 40-year-old also became the oldest winner since Eddie Cheever in 1998 and made amends for his heartbreaking and close-run defeat in 2012. "It's an unbelievable feeling, I can't describe it. I want to thank my team," he told media after completing 500 miles (200 laps) of the famed 2.5 mile long track the fastest. "It was obviously a tough, tough race but it was fantastic to be out there - I hope the crowd enjoyed it." Meanwhile, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso was forced out on his debut Indy 500 appearance with just 20 laps to go due to engine failure. The 35-year-old produced a near-perfect drive for McLaren-branded Andretti Autosport and led the field on several occasions. Alonso received a standing ovation from the capacity 300,000 crowd as mechanics helped their star driver off the track. "It's been one of the best experiences of my career," Alonso, who skipped the Monte Carlo Grand Prix to race in the United States, said. "It's very nice to race here and prove I can compete against some of the best drivers and be competitive. If I come back, I know I will come back with something." The other major incident of the race involved pole sitter and 2008 champion Scott Dixon, who fortunately escaped unhurt in a spectacular crash. Britain's Jay Howard bounced off the outside wall near turn one on lap 53 and slid into Dixon's vehicle, sending it careening into the air and sliding along a guardrail on the inside of the track, a burst of flame shooting from the back end. Both drivers soon climbed out from their cars.

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