Jones Heads To Indianapolis With Indy Lights Points Lead
Dubai-based Englishman Ed Jones and the Carlin team will return to the Indianapolis Grand Prix road course this week with the intention of extending their championship leads.
All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will compete in support of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which will feature 15 graduates of the ladder system on the 25-car grid.
The Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires will consist of two races – rounds six and seven of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title-chase – on the 2.439-mile road circuit which uses portions of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
Consistency, as ever, will be one of the keys to championship glory – and the Mazda scholarship bonus valued at $1M which will ensure participation in at least three Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017, including the Indianapolis 500. After five races and as many different winners this season, consistency has been an elusive goal. Jones, 21, is the only driver to have finished among the top 10 in every race.
After overcoming a disappointing start to his campaign in St. Petersburg, Fla., claiming only a 10th and a seventh-place result at the street circuit which had brought a pair of stunning victories one year earlier, Jones bounced back with a second-place finish on the Phoenix International Raceway oval. He then grasped the points lead following a productive weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama last month which netted two pole positions, a race win and a second-place finish for the Carlin team. One year ago, Jones started both races at Indianapolis from the front row of the grid, including a pole in Race Two, but had to be content with finishes of third and fourth.
“We had extremely good pace last year so I do feel confident that we will have a solid base to work from and hopefully be able to produce another pole position car,” said Jones. “At this point of the year it’s great to have the points lead of course but you can't dwell on it too much as it’s still early and you still need to optimize every weekend to its maximum so that you are there when it counts.”
Jones currently leads the points chase by 108-102 over Kyle Kaiser. Also a second-year Indy Lights competitor, Kaiser, 20, from Santa Clara, Calif., began with three consecutive podium finishes, including a win at St. Pete, for Brownsburg, Ind.-based Juncos Racing, but is seeking to rebound from a difficult weekend at Barber which brought finishes of 15th and sixth.
Jones’ Carlin teammate Felix Serralles, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist, who drives for Brownsburg-based Belardi Auto Racing, and Uruguay’s Santiago Urrutia have shared the other race wins this year. Urrutia, who drives for seven-time championship-winning team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, is seeking to emulate Spencer Pigot by winning the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Indy Lights crown in consecutive years.
Other leading contenders this week will include Schmidt Peterson’s RC Enerson, 19, from New Port Richey, Fla., Stockdale, Ohio’s Zach Veach (Belardi), Englishman Dean Stoneman (Andretti Autosport) and 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda winner Scott Hargrove (Team Pelfrey), from Vancouver, B.C., Canada. All four have already recorded podium finishes this year.
The Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented by Cooper Tires will commence with a pair of hour-long test sessions on Wednesday, May 11, at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EDT, followed by two official practice sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Qualifying is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13, followed by a 40-minute “sprint” race at 4:30 p.m. Following a 20-minute warmup at 9:45 a.m., Saturday’s 60-minute “feature” race will start at 1:15 p.m., immediately before the Verizon IndyCar Series headline event. Live streaming shows of all sessions will be available at indylights.com, indycar.com and on the Road To Indy TV App. Saturday’s race will air on NBCSN on May 22 at 1:00 pm EDT.