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.
Will Power led the only IndyCar Road America practice of the weekend Saturday, shooting to the top of the chart on his 22nd and final lap of the session at 1 minute, 46.0021 seconds in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet.
Dixon knocked Jack Harvey’s No. 60 Dallara-Honda from the top spot (which would have marked the first time that a Meyer-Shank Racing car led practice).
Josef Newgarden, Power’s Team Penske teammate, was third, followed by Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay (who went off course late in the session but sustained no damage).
Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Graham Rahal, defending race winner Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top 10 in the practice that preceded a Saturday-Sunday race weekend doubleheader for IndyCar at Road America.
PRACTICE RESULTS: Click here to see who was fastest in the session
RACE INFORMATION: What you need to know for today’s REV Group Grand Prix
RATED ROOKIE: Rinus VeeKay rebounding well from a tough debut
IndyCar tested some new cooling devices with cars from Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. Several drivers have said the cockpit heat caused by the new aeroscreen was stifling during last week’s GMR Grand Prix, and IndyCar repositioned drink bottles this weekend to keep liquids cool. The pieces tried by IndyCar during the Road America practice won’t be available during the races Saturday and Sunday at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course.
Scott Dixon, who is seeking to open the season with his third consecutive IndyCar victory, was 15th fastest in the 75-minute session. Other notables in Road America practice: Marco Andretti (12th), Simon Pagenaud (19th).
Power is aiming for his second consecutive pole position after qualifying first last week on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Qualifying for the REV Group Grand Prix Race #1 will take place at 2:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold).
The broadcast of the IndyCar race at Road America will begin at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.