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IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Jones

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. Top rookie was Ed Jones, who succeeded despite the lack of competition among freshmen drivers.

Ed Jones, No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: Indy Lights (champion)
  • 2017: 14th place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 8th, 1 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 14.4 Avg. Start, 14.2 Avg. Finish

Rookie Ed Jones had somewhat moderate expectations from the outside going into this season, but the Dubai-based Brit, who resides in Miami, grew up in a big way. He didn’t have another full-time rookie rival and he lost his teammate and setup guide in Sebastien Bourdais at midseason, but excelled anyway as a rock for the Dale Coyne Racing team in a tough year.

Jones had a paradoxical season where his best results came more from luck rather than great driving, and as his driving improved his results subsided. Nonetheless, Jones seized his opportunities when they were there and starred most during the month of May in Indianapolis, cast as the quiet, overlooked rookie in the face of Fernando Alonso-mania.

Finishing third after starting 11th in the Indianapolis 500, in his first ever large oval race in IndyCar, and given the team disparity at Coyne versus Andretti Autosport, was enough to garner some votes for the Speedway’s top rookie honors (including from this author). It turned heads and drew a lot of praise, including from runner-up Helio Castroneves who hailed Jones’ race craft and his ability to drive as well as he did with a wounded race car.

He didn’t finish that high again and owing to the winner-only celebration at Indianapolis, he hasn’t actually stood on an IndyCar podium yet even though he has a top-three finish – similar to JR Hildebrand prior to this year. But he was one of the season’s most pleasant surprises and proved Indy Lights remains an excellent training ground for IndyCar.

His ultimate reward came at season’s end when after Felix Rosenqvist (Formula E contract tie-up) and Brendon Hartley (roundabout reunion with Red Bull, racing for Toro Rosso in F1) fell through as candidates to take over Chip Ganassi’s No. 10 car, Jones earned the seat in a somewhat surprise move.

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/