Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

The 2016 Indy Lights Championship Review: Ed Jones

By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer

Carlin joined the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires grid in 2015 as Trevor Carlin sought to expand his open-wheel racing empire to the U.S. and succeeded in his second year of operations by securing an Indy Lights championship with driver Ed Jones. Let’s look back at his championship run.

The season got off to an uneventful start for Jones as St. Petersburg gave the Dubai-based Brit a tenth and a seventh to start the season off in what is now his new home state of Florida.  However, Phoenix International Raceway would be much kinder to the 2013 European F3 Open Champion as a runner-up finish brought him closer to the points lead.

Jones’s runner up finish at Phoenix started a string of seven consecutive top four finishes and at Barber Motorsports Park, a win and a second gave him the points lead heading into the month of May.

Indianapolis gave the Indy Lights sophomore a massive boost in points as on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jones was able to score a win and a fourth.  A couple of weeks later at the Freedom 100, Jones finished second to Andretti Autosport’s Dean Stoneman by .0024 seconds

Indy Lights got nearly an entire month off before heading to Road America and following a fourth place finish in the first race at the Wisconsin track, Jones’s top four finishing streak came to an abrupt end in the second race. He was leading Stoneman before squeezing Stoneman off track in Turn 6 early in the second race. Jones was then squeezed off track and was hit by teammate Felix Serralles, causing him to pit with a damaged rear wing and finishing 13th.

Iowa would be better for Jones as he finished third at the final oval race of the Indy Lights season but Toronto and Mid Ohio would not be as kind.  Toronto was dominated by Belardi Auto Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist and Jones was left picking up the pieces with a sixth and a fifth, but he still kept the points lead.

That points lead would change hands at Mid Ohio, however. The Lexington road course helped Jones’s primary championship rival Santiago Urrutia, who won both races that weekend. Failing brakes made for a miserable end to the weekend as after a sixth in the first race, a crash midway through the second race caused Jones to finish 11th. This would set him up for a final critical stretch of three races.

Watkins Glen gave Jones a much-needed break for his championship hopes as Urrutia had trouble with a flat tire during the race.  Urrutia’s misfortune was Jones’s gain as the Carlin driver would finish second, cutting Urrutia’s lead to a single point heading to California.

Jones would repeat his Watkins Glen finish at the first race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Soul Red Finale, but the last race of the season is where controversy ensued.

Carlin had fourth and fifth in the final race of the season locked down as Serralles led Jones in the closing stages and left the Dubai native tied on points with Urrutia, who would win the championship because of the race win tiebreaker. However, Serralles let Jones by to win the championship amid much controversy over team orders.

Regardless of where you stand, Jones won the title by two points over Urrutia and will be running in three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017, including the Indianapolis 500.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.

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