“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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