Late crash deprives Ed Jones of good finish in Phoenix Grand Prix

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Ed Jones was running second with 30 laps remaining.

Chip Ganassi had just finished singing his praises when NBCSN cut to a side-by-side commercial, focusing on the leader Josef Newgarden.

“It’s just a matter of hitting his marks. He’s had a pretty much trouble-free night,” Ganassi said in a televised interview before the commercial break.

By the time the screen was once again filled with racing action, Jones’ No. 10 Honda was wedged against the turn four wall.

Jones’ position on the track was due in part to decisions made by his race strategist.

“We were looking at tire degradation; what the other guys were doing,” Ganassi said. “It was really a matter of getting him out in the open – in the clear from the stop. We didn’t want to put him in traffic.

But traffic is unavoidable on a one-mile oval where the leaders are circling at more than 175 m.p.h.

While trying to get around Spencer Pigot, who was two laps down at the time, Jones got his right-side tires in the marbles and shot into the wall.

“(The race) was a lot better than I expected,” Jones said from the infield after the race. “We had great pit stops, kept moving up places, ran second with 27 laps to go.

“And then I caught a backmarker: Pigot. I passed him early on in the race, so I knew how to get around him and didn’t want to take any risks. But I got into (turn) three and as soon as I turned in, the car went straight up into the wall.”

Jones finished 20th, 22 laps off the pace.

To see what happened to Jones in traffic, watch the video above.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”