INDIANAPOLIS – Dale Coyne Racing has completed its full-time 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series driver lineup with the addition of reigning Indy Lights Champion Ed Jones as the driver of its No. 18 entry.
Jones, an Emirati driver of English descent, now residing in the USA, came to America in 2015 to take part in his first season of Indy Lights racing. He impressed immediately, taking pole position in his debut race, winning the first three races and going on to finish third in the standings for Carlin Racing.
This past season, Jones returned with Carlin Racing and claimed top honors in the Indy Lights Series on the strength of eight podium finishes, including two wins. He also scored eight pole positions, more than any other driver in the series.
“I’m hugely excited about stepping up to the Verizon IndyCar Series next year with Dale Coyne Racing,” expressed Jones. “To reach an agreement as early as we have done is great news as it gives me plenty of time to settle into the team and get to know everybody properly so we can prepare as well as possible for the season ahead.
“IndyCar has been my goal ever since I left Europe to come and race in America, and it’s crazy to think I’ll be joining the grid just two years after moving stateside. Together with my management team and sponsors, I’ve worked so hard for this opportunity and I fully intend to grab it by the scruff of the neck and make the most of it.”
“Although we spoke to a few teams, Dale Coyne Racing always stood out as the best option and Dale worked hard to make the deal happen,” revealed the former European F3 Open Champion.
By agreeing to a contract with the 21-year-old, Dale Coyne Racing is keeping up its tradition of helping young drivers make their debut in the top US open-wheel racing series.
“Ed had a couple of remarkable seasons in Indy Lights and we’re very excited to have him join our team for his rookie IndyCar campaign,” shared Team Owner Dale Coyne. “I attended the season finale at Laguna Seca and Ed demonstrated a lot of poise, maturity and determination while under pressure, knowing that the championship was on the line. Those are all qualities that will serve him well in IndyCar. I was very impressed with what I saw.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with young drivers and see them evolve as the season goes by. We’re excited to be able to get things going this early in the off-season with both of our drivers, and as I said when we confirmed Sebastien (Bourdais), we’re very much looking forward to the 2017 season.”
Jones will be surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and experience in his rookie season. He’ll be paired with race-winning engineer Michael Cannon and will have none other than Dale Coyne as his race strategist.
Not to mention, he’ll be able to learn from his teammate, four-time open-wheel champion Sebastien Bourdais, who was announced last month as the pilot of the #19 DCR car.
“He’s one of the best teammates I could ask for during my rookie season as I get used to everything; he has a wealth of experience in the sport that I can draw upon and he seems like a really open and approachable guy. Not only that, but he will be an excellent benchmark too as he is still clearly one of the fastest drivers in the series, so for me, it’s the ideal scenario and I’m sure we’ll establish a strong working relationship to really drive the team forward.
“Whilst I’m aware I have a big learning curve ahead of me, my plan is to absorb as much information as I can and get onto the pace as quickly as possible, and as a former driver himself, Dale understands what it’s like inside the cockpit which will be hugely beneficial when it comes to talking about set-up and discussing feedback.
“The whole experience will be a step-up from anything I’ve done before, with longer races, pit-stops and a vital strategic element. Indeed, strategy is one of the areas in which DCR has always excelled. For my learning year in the series, I really couldn’t be anywhere better,” continued Jones.
“The team has further strengthened its personnel in recent months, and I’m confident we can enjoy a very positive season together. I’m really looking forward to my first test in the car and to get cracking on 2017!”
With both of its drivers confirmed before the end of 2016, the Dale Coyne Racing team can now solely focus on preparations for next year.