As NBC Sports predicted yesterday, if Brendon Hartley’s dalliance with Formula 1 and Scuderia Toro Rosso continued to grow, Ed Jones was emerging in the frame for the Chip Ganassi Racing seat Hartley was earmarked for, but left behind.
Indeed, Jones has been confirmed to Ganassi’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, a massive step for the 2017 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year, as teammate to Scott Dixon.
“This is truly an honor to have the opportunity to drive for Chip, his organization and to represent NTT DATA,” Jones said in a release.
“Chip runs one of the biggest and best motor racing teams in the world, and equally as important, is a proven winner across each series he competes in from Le Mans to Indianapolis and beyond. I want to get up to speed quickly and learn as much as I can. Scott is a legend in the sport, and to get the chance to team with him is an amazing opportunity.
“I think I’m joining the team at a perfect time when the playing field is being reset with common aero kits, and everyone is adjusting to a new formula. I’m really looking forward to getting in the car and getting underway with our 2018 campaign.”
Chip Ganassi, team owner, added: “We’ve been following Ed’s career for quite some time now and are pleased we are able to add him to strengthen our Indy car lineup. He has a year of Indy car racing under his belt now and is the type of young talent that we were looking for. We can’t wait to get him on the race track.”
This leaves a vacancy at Dale Coyne Racing for the 2018 season alongside Sebastien Bourdais. RC Enerson could be in the frame for that seat, along with fellow Indy Lights veteran Santiago Urrutia, or another new driver depending on how Coyne could find. Conor Daly raced for the team in 2015 for one weekend and all of 2016, but would be a surprise pick for the second seat.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.