By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie Ed Jones has a lot to be proud of in his 2017 season so far. The Brit, born in the United Arab Emirates, finished tenth in his debut race on the streets of St. Petersburg followed by a sixth in Long Beach for Dale Coyne Racing.
Heading to the Indianapolis 500, Jones was the only rookie out of the three yet to complete rookie orientation that actually finished the program within the initial time allotted on Monday.
“It was really good, ROP went really smoothly, [thinking] back to the (Indy) Lights car, the Lights car moves a lot more so this is just a lot more comfortable when you’re by yourself anyway,” Jones said.
“It gives you a lot more confidence in the car so yeah, that was fine and we did a little bit of traffic running but not very much on Monday and then Tuesday we did quite a lot and felt really good at the end of the day and I was able to start passing some cars so so far it’s gone I think just as good as we’d want it to go and we’re looking forward to making even more progress.”
But what did the 2016 Indy Lights champion learn on Monday that he was able to apply toward the rest of the week so far?
“Just getting familiar with the track and the car and just how it behaves and a little bit of traffic running so yeah, every time out there we did a lot of laps on Monday especially so yeah, just getting me a bit more comfortable and so that when I’m running in traffic I already know what to expect from the car.”
Jones spent two seasons in Indy Lights and remarked about the differences between running the IL-15 and the DW12.
“I could run closer in traffic and you have more tools to work with the car to adjust it to make (the Indy car) easier to drive through the traffic so actually the car allows you to do more in it,” Jone said.
Jones was the fastest rookie during Tuesday’s practice but ultimately wasn’t too impressed by it.
“It doesn’t mean anything, these test days some people are getting massive tows, some people aren’t and so we won’t know where we are until race day. I think just the main thing is to see how we are in traffic and as long as we feel comfortable, that’s good.”
For the man who calls Miami home, he has two very experienced teammates helping him at Dale Coyne Racing with Sebastien Bourdais and Pippa Mann offering their expertise. In fact, Jones tried out Sebastien’s setup on his own car.
“It’s been really good,” said Jones “Seb tried out a different setup and now we’ve migrated to that so I’m going to try that out this morning.
He was really really strong through traffic Tuesday so it’s good to watch his video and learn from what he was doing and to try and do it myself.”