Ed Jones hails “fantastic” second IndyCar test with RLL

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One of the protagonists seeking to secure this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship, Ed Jones, got a bit of extra track time that might help him going into the second-to-last weekend of the Indy Lights season in a car he hopes to be driving full-time next year.

The 21-year-old Dubai-based Brit stepped aboard Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda as part of an Indy Lights driver test day at Watkins Glen International, one of four Indy Lights drivers to do so. The others were Andretti Autosport teammates Dean Stoneman, Dalton Kellett and Shelby Blackstock.

This was Jones’ second IndyCar test day, and like at Sonoma last year, it was with RLL. The Watkins Glen test gave him an opportunity to sample the resurfaced upstate New York road course, where Indy Lights will race alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series on Labor Day weekend.

“It was fantastic to climb back into the cockpit of an IndyCar, and I owe a huge thanks to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for placing their confidence in me and affording me the opportunity,” Jones said afterwards. “Watkins Glen is such an iconic circuit, and its fast-and-flowing nature really showcases the IndyCar’s incredible downforce. I settled straight back into the groove and felt comfortable pretty much immediately, which was really positive and it was great to work with the team again.

“We’ve made no secret of the fact that moving up to IndyCar is our principal objective for next season, so the more track time I can get in one between now and then, the more prepared I will be to take that step because I learn more every time I go out. It’s notoriously difficult with the funding required and limited number of seats, but we’ve spoken to a couple of teams with regard to 2017 and are exploring all potential options.”

RLL team manager Ricardo “Rico” Nault said Jones did all that was asked of him and then some.

“Ed did a fine job for us,” Nault said. “He methodically got up-to-speed and never put a wheel off. The team hadn’t been to Watkins Glen with an IndyCar since we won there in 2008, and it has changed a lot since then – the track has recently been repaved and it is much faster. Ed found that the car was reasonably balanced to start with, but he was able to provide good feedback that allowed us to make it even quicker.

“The way the IndyCar rules are structured, we needed Ed to complete as many laps as possible. This left him to put in long stints and run the tyres longer than a fuel load but even under these conditions, he still produced good times on old rubber. This is a very demanding track and Ed was able to keep up with it physically. All told, we are very happy with the job he did for us and we thank him for his efforts.”

RLL has been back to a single-car full-time team since 2014, although Graham Rahal made no secret of the fact at the Mid-Ohio weekend he’d like to see the team resume with a second car full-time.

Rahal posted an on-board video of Watkins Glen, and it looks crazy fast.

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”