Indy Lights: Carlin’s Ed Jones on top in opening race at St. Pete

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ST. PETERSBURG – Ed Jones and Carlin Racing have opened their American account and the new era of the Dallara IL15 Mazda in perfect style.

Jones delivered a dominant drive to win the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season-opening Mazda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Peninsula Pipeline, Round 1 on the season and one of two races to open the 2015 campaign.

From pole, the Dubai-based driver got out to an early lead in the No. 11 entry while the rest of the field scrapped for second behind him.

Jones’ teammate Max Chilton, the ex-Marussia F1 driver and future NISMO LMP1 driver, was swamped on the start by Jack Harvey, Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove.

Chilton fell back before he and Felix Serralles made contact exiting Turn 2 on Lap 2, which put the race under a full-course caution.

Once the race resumed, Jones streaked away and didn’t have much competition at the front of the field – at least from humans.

“The race was really hard and the tires start to go off. You can’t go too hard on power,” Jones said.

“I kept seeing birds on the track and one time it caught me out completely. But other than that it was fine. I didn’t have to use push-to-pass, but it was nice to have.

“It was a good start for me, got the jump on Max and kept my head down.”

Harvey finished second, 3.7085 seconds in arrears, with 2014 Pro Mazda champion Pigot on the podium in his Indy Lights debut.

Hargrove and Kyle Kaiser completed the top five finishers.

Elsewhere Matthew Brabham’s race ended in 11th after incurring a drive-through penalty for contacting RC Enerson at Turn 1. Brabham sustained front wing damage in the incident and needed repairs.

Race two occurs tomorrow. The full package from the weekend, with Round 1 highlights and Round 2 in full, will air on NBCSN on Sunday, April 5, at 4:30 p.m. ET.