Dubai-based Ed Jones had to settle for 13th place in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 race but that was enough him to claim the coveted Verizon IndyCar Series’ ‘Sunoco Rookie of the Year’ crown.
The 22-year-old Brit had a strong weekend at the Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. Having clocked the fifth fastest time during practice, he began the race in 12th position despite oversteering in twighlight conditions. Yet, that was enough to see him ahead of contenders Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
And although the race began under the yellow flag after a driver had spun, Jones showed once again his potential by pushing his rivals close on the track. He continued to be in the mix for a top-10 finish but faded in the later stages as the Dale Coyne Racing driver crossed the chequered flag 13th of out the 21 drivers.
The result saw him claim the Rookie of the Year accolade – the latest achievement for the reigning Indy Light champion, who finished third at the Indy 500 in May.
“We knew the weekend might be a little challenging with our short oval aero package, but we had a solid first practice,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, the conditions then changed significantly before qualifying with the drop in temperature, and that really made a big difference. We had a bit too much oversteer and I had to save the car from spinning a few times, which killed the speed a bit.
“We were still hopeful of being able to move forward from there, but it was a tough race. We ran with a lot of downforce and early on we had some good battles, but later, the pace of the car wasn’t quick enough so it was a bit frustrating. It was a shame I didn’t have the speed at the end, because it was a fantastic event and it was great to see so many fans come out to support us.”
There’s no time to rest for Jones, who will head to New York for the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen, this weekend.