Indy Lights graduates Ed Jones, Zach Veach shine in Long Beach Grand Prix

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Fans of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires had lots of reasons to cheer in the final stages of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, as two recent MRTI graduates featured prominently in a hard-fought battle for the final spot on the podium.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ed Jones, the 2016 Indy Lights champion, dueled Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach, a multi-race winner in Indy Lights in his own right, late in Sunday’s race for third place after both enjoyed quiet races, but strong finishes that saw them avoid all mishaps to run up front at the end.

Veach tried to pass Jones a couple times, even getting close with an outside move entering Turn 9, but Jones ultimately held him off to take his first podium finish since last year’s Indianapolis 500, where he also finished third.

For Jones, it serves as a nice rebound from a tough Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix, in which he crashed late in the race while running in second.

“It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for me with Chip Ganassi Racing,” Jones said after the race. “It’s a big move for me after my rookie season. We struggled this weekend early on, especially on Friday.

“We made some good jumps for Saturday, but we still qualified 13th, which wasn’t good enough. But you know, the guys played a great strategy and did great pit stops, and a little bit lucky with the yellows, as well, to be able to end up third.”

For Veach, despite just missing out on a podium, there was plenty to be happy about in finishing fourth.

Zach Veach’s efforts in Long Beach came up just shy of a podium, but there was still. Photo: IndyCar

“(Fourth) feels like a win, to be honest,” said an elated Veach, who credited the No. 26 Group One Thousand One Honda team for helping him rebound from a tough opening two races.

“The crew was pushing me pretty hard at the end to try to get on the podium but … after St. Pete, after Phoenix, we’ve just been chipping away on it and we took a big swing at it today,” Veach said. “I’ve got to thank my Group One Thousand One guys, honestly.

“I kind of made a mishap in qualifying to put us 16th. Today we had great strategy, great stops. They got me to where I could capitalize on it so this is more for them than me.”

Jones and Veach will look to build on their Long Beach successes next Sunday at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

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IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold