The 2018 IndyCar season started with a lot of promise for Ed Jones, but three failures to finish in the first six races put that all in jeopardy.
The sophomore driver scored a top 10 in his first outing on the street course in St Petersburg, Florida. He was running with the leaders in week two when he crashed on lap 228 of 250 at Ingenuity Sun Media Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway), and then seemed to rebound almost immediately with a third-place finish in the Long Beach Grand Prix.
For the next three races, nothing went right. A 20th at Barber Motorsports Park was the highlight – and that featured a DNF with a misfiring engine.
The Raceway at Belle Isle proved to be his turning point. Jones finished sixth in race one; he was third in the second race.
He has not been outside the top 10 since.
Suddenly, things started to go right again. So well, in fact that even getting boxed in behind a rapidly slowing Will Power on the opening lap of Kohler Grand Prix at Road America could not keep him from keeping his streak of top 10s alive.
Jones lost five positions on the opening lap – dropping from 12th to 17th.
“It was a tough start to the race,” Jones said. “We kind of got sandwiched in when one of the cars ahead had an engine issue, which meant my side of the grid got stacked up and I had nowhere to go.
“That dropped us down the order and cost us a ton of track position which was hard to get back, but the First Data car was really fast and we were able to pass a lot of people over the remaining laps. The team did a good job in the pits, and we’ll keep fighting and moving forward. It’s been a great last few races for Ganassi, and that shows we have the speed we need to win and compete at the front.”
Finishing ninth in the Kohler Grand Prix was the fourth consecutive race in which Jones scored a top 10. It was his sixth such finish in 2018.
In two IndyCar starts on that track, he now has a perfect record of top 10s.
“Road America is one of my favorite tracks on the IndyCar schedule,” Jones said in a press release following the race. “The team was refreshed and ready to attack following a weekend off, and the guys on the First Data car worked hard and made some great changes after we were missing something in practice. I was a lot more confident in qualifying and felt we were going in the right direction. Indeed, without getting held up, I think we would have been capable of advancing into the ‘Firestone Fast Six’.”
Scoring minimal points from week two through week six, Jones dropped from ninth in the points standings to 18th and has been difficult to claw his way back up the grid. With four consecutive top-10s and a lap led at Texas Motor Speedway, Jones has climbed to 12th – 27 markers outside of the top 10.