It’s hard to think that there may be a driver more unassuming than four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. But it could be the guy sitting next to him in Chip Ganassi Racing meetings.
Ed Jones quietly drove to Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the series a year ago, helping the 23-year-old native of Dubai land a ride this season with the 11-time Indy car champion team alongside Dixon. Jones sailed under the radar again last weekend with one of the more impressive performances at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader.
Now the driver of the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda looks to build on that momentum this week at Texas Motor Speedway in the DXC Technology 600 on Saturday night.
DXC TECHNOLOGY 600: Entry list
On Detroit’s treacherous Belle Isle Park temporary street course, Jones came away with finishes of sixth and third in the two races. The latter equaled his career-best result. Coming off a disappointing month of May in Indianapolis – when he finished 22nd in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 31st in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 – the Detroit results provided a breath of fresh air for Jones.
“After the last two races, things haven't gone well for us, so it was really important to get the momentum back and have two solid results,” he 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.
"I'm very happy with the recent results. I had my best qualifying effort ever in Detroit of fourth (for Race 2), but we know there is more to be done to get us to the next level. It's a big weekend for our sponsor NTT DATA in Texas and we want to put on a great show for them and give them something to cheer about."
In his teammate Dixon, Jones has the ultimate measure of growth and success in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Finishing one spot ahead of Dixon in Sunday’s second race at Detroit was “a big confidence boost,” he admitted.
“I've beat him in a few other races, but it wasn't a straight-on fight,” Jones said. “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.”
The demands of the Verizon IndyCar Series have been in full view the past month. Drivers and teams have gone from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course to its squared oval, then to the demanding bumpy street circuit on Belle Isle. Next up is the high-banked, D-shaped Texas oval.
“That's what's great about Indy car racing is adapting to all those different types of circuits weekend to weekend,” Jones said. “It's a big challenge and, yeah, you've got to be able to do that quickly and be on top of your game straight away.
“I think Texas is going to be extremely tough with the new downforce levels, and also looking at the heat there, it's like 104 degrees. We'll see when we get there.”
Practice begins at 12:30 p.m. ET Friday with a 90-minute session that will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
Qualifying to determine the Verizon P1 Award pole winner airs live on NBCSN at 4 p.m. Friday, with a final 60-minute practice starting at 7:15 p.m. (RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app).
The race airs live at 8 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Preceding the NBCSN race telecast will be the first episode of “Inside INDYCAR” at 6:30 p.m. and an encore showing of the qualifying telecast at 7 p.m.