IndyCar

IndyCar: Ed Jones bounces back in big way at Detroit

Leave a comment

Ed Jones has been like a bouncing ball this season.

He started off with an eighth-place finish in the season-opening Verizon IndyCar Series race at St. Petersburg, Florida and a third-place finish two races later at Long Beach.

Then the ball bounced off into foul territory, with disappointing finishes of 20th (Alabama), 22nd (INDYCAR Grand Prix) and 31st (Indy 500), dropping him to 18th in the standings.

But just one weekend saw the Dubai, Arab Emirates resident bounce back in a big way – Saturday and Sunday’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Grand Prix, that is.

Jones finished sixth in Saturday’s Race 1, then roared right back the next day to finish third, his second podium of the season.

That means in the first eight races of the 2018 season, Jones has two podiums and two other top-10 finishes.

And after Detroit and as the series moves on to Texas Motor Speedway for this Saturday night’s race, Jones is suddenly back up to 12th in the standings – with the potential of climbing even higher in the Lone Star State.

To say the driver of the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda is feeling good after his two best career finishes in the Motor City (was 9th and 22nd in last year’s races there) is an understatement.

Not to mention he has already doubled the number of podium finishes this season than he had in his rookie season.

“Things haven’t gone well for us, so it was really important to get the momentum back and have two solid results this weekend,” Jones said. “We worked really hard on it as well and there was a lot of pressure to do that, but the team gave me the car to do it, and I was able to deliver.”

It was a big weekend not just for Jones, but also Chip Ganassi Racing. Teammate Scott Dixon won his first race in nearly a year in Saturday’s Race 1 at Detroit, and finished right behind Jones in fourth place Sunday.

“It was a great job by the team the whole weekend,” Jones said. “Scott winning the race (Saturday) and then me on the podium (Sunday), we’re just aiming to bring the team forward and have some one-twos eventually.”

That has the potential to happen, indeed, particularly at Texas, where Dixon has two wins and seven podium finishes in 18 career starts on the 1.5-mile oval.

Jones finished 17th at Texas as a rookie last season. He feels a much stronger finish could be on tap given his strong Detroit showing.

“Yeah, (Detroit) was a big confidence boost for me,” Jones said, including being able to finish ahead of his teammate Sunday. “I’ve beat him in a few other races but it wasn’t a straight-on fight, it was different strategies and things like that.

“To be able to race him and pass him on track to move forward, yeah, it’s a big thing for me.

“I’ve been trying to learn a lot from Scott, and we’re open to helping each other out. At the end of the day, we both want to drive the team forward and get to winning races.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
3 Comments

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.