Ed Jones returns to IndyCar after one-year hiatus

Jones Coyne Vasser Sullivan
Khris Hale/Getty Images
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Ed Jones will return to the NTT IndyCar series in 2021 with Dale Coyne Racing and Vasser Sullivan Racing (DCVS) after a one-year hiatus. Sealmaster will return as the sponsor on the No. 18 for the fourth consecutive season. Last year Santino Ferrucci gave them a best finish of fourth in the Indy 500.

“We’re full steam ahead having Ed Jones join us, and taking over the driver responsibilities for the No. 18 Team SealMaster machine,” James Sullivan said in a release. “Ed has had some big moments in IndyCar, and we expect you’ll see some big moments with us together in 2021.”

Jones replaces Ferrucci in the ride as he heads to NASCAR’s Xfinity season in 2021.

For Jones, the return is two-fold. He not only returns to the series, but he is back with the team that provided him with his greatest accomplishment. Jones was the 2017 IndyCar Rookie of the Year driving for Dale Coyne Racing (DCR). That season, he scored one of three career podium finishes, which was a third-place finish in the Indy 500.

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“I’m really excited to join the Coyne Vasser Sullivan team for the 2021 NTT IndyCar season,” Jones said. “I started my IndyCar career with Dale. Jimmy and Sulli have had much success as owners together, and the combination of Coyne, Vasser Sullivan is a proven team over the last three seasons. I’m pumped for the opportunity to drive the No. 18 SealMaster machine and represent the SealMaster franchisees across the country, this really is the perfect opportunity.”

Jones earned two more third-place finishes in 2018 driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Jones won the 2016 Indy Lights championship on the strength of two wins and eight podium finishes in 18 races.

“We’re very happy to have Ed Jones back with us and back in the NTT IndyCar Series this season,” said Dale Coyne. “We were sad to see him leave after his first time with us but we’ve kept in touch since. Ed had a great rookie season at DCR in 2017, which included our best finish of third at the Indianapolis 500. Now with DCVS, we hope to continue where we left off with him and look forward to a strong season.”

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds