Jones: ‘Satisfying’ to see potential, success recognized by Ganassi

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Ed Jones’ somewhat meteoric rise into the No. 10 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series comes after a wealth of potential displayed both in his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires career, then last season as the top rookie in the IndyCar championship.

Jones was a perhaps surprise arrival to Dale Coyne Racing for the 2017 season but excelled in his opportunity throughout the season. Obviously his result at the Indianapolis 500, third place in a damaged car, stood out greatest in a year he was overshadowed for the race rookie of the year honors to Fernando Alonso.

Alas, what he showed to the paddock at large was that his training from the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires and at Coyne’s team delivered a nearly complete prospect ready for a massive opportunity such as driving the No. 10 car, a car with a championship-winning pedigree alongside Scott Dixon in the No. 9 car.

Understanding the magnitude of the seat but also being humble enough to realize he still has more to learn and quickly in a top-flight car, Jones knows he’s in a position where he can thrive.

“It’s been a very quick progression. I think everything has gone to plan, if not better than that,” Jones admitted Thursday during a teleconference.

“It’s just about maintaining that hard work and embracing the group of people I’m going to have around me and learning from the wealth of knowledge and experience that comes from this team.

“So going to take it in my stride, you know, take everything in. I realize that I have a fantastic opportunity to win races and fight at the front the whole year in 2018. That’s my aim. We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen.”

Jones went from being expected back at Coyne’s team for a second season to shifting into Ganassi’s No. 10 car in rapid time.

This week has spoke the largest volumes, as Brendon Hartley’s potential IndyCar bow got sidetracked with a different opportunity when Scuderia Toro Rosso came calling for a Formula 1 drive. That started at Circuit of The Americas last week and has grown into the rest of this season this week, with a permanent number selection all but an official sign of a full-season seat set in 2018.

The 22-year-old Dubai-based Brit was understandably surprised that the Ganassi seat became available, but jumped at it knowing he felt ready for the chance.

“Initially it was a bit of a surprise,” he said. “At the same time I felt that I worked really hard for this. I tried to prove what I could do. They’ve acknowledged that. Surprising on one hand, but on the other hand it was very satisfying that they had realized my potential.”

Jones, who excelled in Indy Lights’ Dallara IL-15 Mazda for two seasons, should mirror fellow past Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot in excelling with the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit. The new IndyCar body kit is rather similar to the new Indy Lights and rewards those with an aggressive nature on the brakes.

“I think the car, overall it has a lot less downforce, so it’s going to be a different driving style as to how the car was this year. And so I’m really looking forward to that challenge. Like you said, it should be more similar to the Indy Lights car in a sense, so that could help me,” he said.

“In addition to that, for the whole team, it’s a new starting point. What makes this a great opportunity for teams, you know, for me to be with Chip Ganassi Racing, I think the team has one of the best resources out of the whole field. They’re going to have a great go at making the car perform really well from the get-go. It’s a perfect place for me to be at right now.”

And then, of course, there’s Dixon being in the other car – Jones’ second straight four-time champion as a teammate after Sebastien Bourdais.

Jones was complimentary of Bourdais’ feedback and insight all year, and knows that by working with Dixon, he’s working with a second straight legend in IndyCar’s history.

“Scott is a legend of IndyCar racing. Been so successful over the years. He’s one of if not the best person you can learn from. So I’m really going to take advantage of that, try and scrape every bit of knowledge out of him, and take it to my advantage,” he said.

“What I found really different, what Sebastien did very well, he knew a lot about the car, what setup changes to make, things like that. He knew as soon as he went out, he could tell it very quickly just from the experience he’s gained. That was something where I really tried to work hard on to improve that. As you can see, it’s very beneficial.

“In every aspect, there’s different things to learn. I think from Scott, you know, he’s proven to be one of the best in the sport. So, yeah, I’m sure I’m going to pick up a lot on his driving, areas where I can improve myself. I think his driving style, looking at it from the outside, it seems quite the opposite to how I usually drive, so it will be a great place for me to learn how he drives that way and how I can work it into my own driving, make myself better.”

Lastly there’s a bit of pressure on Jones as another MRTI driver in a high-profile situation, but his leap into one of the pre-eminent seats in the series speaks volumes of the ladder’s training and development.

Along with defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden at Team Penske, Pigot at Ed Carpenter Racing, Gabby Chaves at Harding Racing and Kyle Kaiser at Juncos Racing, Jones is one of five of the last seven Indy Lights champions set to feature on the IndyCar grid next year – and that’s to go along with a number of other recent graduates spread throughout as well.

“It was a perfect scenario for me coming from Europe to the States. Gave me a clear goal. I knew what I had to achieve,” Jones said.

“If I achieved that, I’d have a chance at IndyCar. That’s exactly what it gave me. It gave me not only that, but a great learning place for the skills, all the experience you need to do well in IndyCar.

“I’m really thankful for that. I’m sure there’s going to be many more drivers like myself coming through the ladder and doing well in IndyCar in years to come.”

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

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With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list