Ed Jones shining in rookie season with Coyne

Photo: IndyCar
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It’s hard to believe Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Ed Jones had never run an IndyCar race prior to last month’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. With two top tens (tenth and sixth) to his name in the first two races, Jones has been driving with the poise and consistency of a veteran, not the dramatics of a young driver desperate make a name for himself.

As a result, Jones is indeed starting to make a name for himself. In fact, the British driver is putting himself in good company. The last time an IndyCar rookie scored top tens in each of his first two starts was in 1993, and the driver was Nigel Mansell. That year, Mansell scored a victory on debut in Australia before finishing third in Long Beach. A race at Phoenix Raceway split the two, but Mansell missed the event due to a concussion after a practice crash.

Jones’ finishes are not going to garner the headline’s that Mansell’s did. But, they are no less impressive. Team owner Dale Coyne is elated with Jones’ opening races. “Ed did a phenomenal job. You have to watch Ed during the race. Sebastien couldn’t get around Marco Andretti in the first stint at St. Pete, but Ed got around Andretti in the second stint at St. Pete, and Ed got around Rahal here,” Coyne said of his rookie driver. “He’s passing people on the track. He’s racing really well. He got a sixth here, he should have had a sixth at St. Pete but he got it here and he’s doing a very good job. I’m very happy with Ed’s progress.”

Jones was a little more muted in his comments, and directed a lot of the credit to Coyne and the team he has built. Still, Jones is gaining confidence with every race. “It’s great to be in the top 10 again with a sixth. Another great effort by the team as well with Seb finishing second,” he said of the team’s Long Beach outing. “I said this at St. Pete, it shows the effort that Dale has put into the team with the drivers, engineers, the development, the whole package to take the team to another level this year and the proof is the first two races. It’s clear to see. I’m really excited. We made big jumps this weekend from St. Pete and I can’t wait to get to Barber to make even more.”

Currently, Jones sits seventh in the championship, two points clear of former champion and Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.