IndyCar

IndyCar: Ed Jones bounces back in big way at Detroit

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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

Indy Lights: Oliver Askew wins Freedom 100 in thrilling finish

John Cote / IndyCar
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Oliver Askew won Friday’s Freedom 100 Indy Lights race in thrilling fashion, narrowly edging out Ryan Norman for the victory by an incredibly slim margin – 0.0067 seconds to be exact – in the fourth-closest finish in Freedom 100 history.

Askew took the lead away from teammate Norman just a few feet away from the yard of bricks on the final lap, which was all he needed to claim his third win of his maiden Indy Lights season.

“This is unreal,” Askew told NBC Sports in Victory Lane. “I’ve never raced in front of so many people in my life. This is unbelievable.”

“I woke up this morning and I felt like this could be the day. Starting from eighth, I knew I was going to have a good car. This is incredible. Oh my gosh.”

With Askew and Norman finishing 1-2, Rinus VeeKay would finish the race in the third position. Toby Sowery and Dalton Kellett would round out the top five, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Race polesitter Robert Megennis would be the last driver to finish on the lead lap, taking the checkered flag in the eighth position.

The yellow flag would fly twice in the 40-lap event, with the first caution coming out on lap two when David Malukas spun in Turn 4.

Malukas would make contact with Chris Windom, sending both drivers violently into the inside wall. Both drivers would walk away from the incident safely.

The second caution of the day came out on lap 30 when Sowery made contact with Megennis at speed in Turn 1, causing Sowery’s car to turn in to the nose of the No. 2 car of Megennis. Somehow, both drivers were able to save their cars from making contact with the wall and would continue to race, though Sowery was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact.

With his victory, Askew now sits at the top of the series points standings with 190. He leads VeeKay by 11 points.

The Indy Lights schedule now moves on to Road America, with a double header scheduled for Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full Freedom 100 results

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter