By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
After starting 18th, climbing to third and finishing 10th probably wasn’t what Ed Jones was expecting to do in his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda, but the Dale Coyne Racing driver managed to accomplish all of that on Sunday’s season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Jones made his first pit stop on Lap 25 and played the strategy game to perfection as the yellow flag came out one lap later. After a brief caution and a pass on Marco Andretti, Jones found himself in third place on Lap 32 and remained there for 20 laps. Jones was happy with his performance.
“It was a really good race, we played the strategy well, we caught the opportunities when they came,” Jones said. “It was obviously tough. It’s always hard on your debut because you’re having to work harder because you’re still learning everything, you’re not sure what’s right. So it was pretty hard physically, but it was a great effort by the team.”
“For Sebastien [Bourdais] to win as well on his [team] debut, it shows the effort that Dale’s put into the team and the investment into the team over the winter to move it forward and this is proof of it and I’m really looking forward to the next round.”
This was the 2016 Indy Lights champion’s first foray into IndyCar racing and it was a big adjustment in more ways than one.
“These cars are harder physically to drive, but to be fair it’s always going to be tougher physically on your first few races because you’re working a lot harder,” Jones said. “You’re not as comfortable to everything, you’re holding on tighter so you’re feeling everything a bit more, but once you relax it’s not going to be too bad.”
Besides being harder physically, it was also harder strategically because he had to deal with pit stops and pit strategy.
“I like [pit stops], it’s a lot of fun,” Jones added.
“I have to work on [making] my pit stops a bit better coming into the pits a bit faster but overall I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned to the next race.”