James Jakes goes from cellar to podium in Grand Prix of Louisiana


The rain couldn’t keep James Jakes down in Round 2 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season at NOLA Motorsports Park, as the British driver helped give Schmidt Peterson Motorsports two of the three podium spots with a third-place finish.

Rain kept Jakes, in the No. 7 Mediatech Advertising Honda, out of the Firestone Fast Six on Saturday, forcing him to start in 22nd based on points after finishing there in the season opener in St. Petersburg.

Those conditions continued into Sunday morning.

“I think all 24 drivers at noon were looking at the clouds and thinking there is no way we’re going to get this in,” Jakes said after the race.

“I knew that if it was going to be a tricky day, and if you just kept your nose clean and we run the right strategy, we’d get a good result. Those conditions seem to favor us.”

It would be a tricky day for Jakes, who spun his car after a Lap 21 restart. Jack Hawksworth tried to avoid him, but wound up in a tire barrier for his efforts.

Jakes said the incident was caused by a combination of racing in “nightmare” conditions, and with the environment like a “river” on that portion of the track from the rain.

“That painted concrete is so slippery in those conditions,” Jakes said.

But Jakes essentially described the incident as a blessing in disguise for the driver who was in only his second IndyCar race after being out of the series for a year.

“That actually helped us because we then pitted,” Jakes said. “The guys in front realized they had to stop one last time before the end of the race, and we didn’t.  So I think there was four or five cars, those two, maybe Tony (Kanaan) and Simona (de Silvestro) and a few others that got straight up to the front and were able to run there from the end.”

In the end, Jakes stood on his first podium since 2013 in Detroit race two for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. After 2013, the team scaled back to one car, Graham Rahal, and Jakes emerged without a ride for 2014.

“Nice to be back after a year out, second weekend and second podium,” Jakes said  “Thanks to the team.  Great strategy.  It was very difficult out there.  We’ve not had the season start we kind of wanted.  We struggled a little bit pace‑wise, I think (that’s) not entirely all our fault.”