Whatever expectations Ed Jones might have harbored going into 2019 as a new addition to Ed Carpenter Racing, they probably didn’t look like this: St Pete – crash, broken hand. COTA – race with broken hand, get swamped trying to make a restart on Firestone blacks when everyone around was on the reds. Barber – a slow car, a jumped start, and a delay in the pits. Long Beach – a stall in pitlane.
But the arrival of May has coincided with the pendulum finally beginning to swing in the other direction. He qualified the ECR Scuderia Corsa car in the Fast 6 for the Indy GP and brought the car home just behind teammate Spencer Pigot in sixth on race day, then backed it up immediately by qualifying as the ‘4’ in an ECR 2-3-4 on the starting grid for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
“It’s been tough this season,” he admits. “It’s very, very easy to see that. After Long Beach, all of us as a team, we kind of realized we went in the wrong direction set-up wise. The Indy Grand Prix was the first time we reverted back to 2018, and clearly it was a lot better, a lot faster. And now, obviously, Ed Carpenter [Racing]’s always really quick here [at the Speedway]. Yeah, it’s been a tough start season, but things are getting better.”
Getting better, and with no sign of hitting a ceiling yet. Up to this point, Jones’s IndyCar career has been defined in part by inconsistency, both on the track and with his employment: ECR is his third team in as many years. Third place at Indy on his debut in 2017 with Coyne, and at Long Beach and Detroit with Ganassi last year, reinforce the signs coming from the No.20/63 garages this May – the speed is there, and if Ed Carpenter decides to step back and run a full-time driver in the No.20 again in future, a ready-made replacement might already be hanging around at the workshop.
“We’ll have to see what happens,” Jones said. “You know, it would be nice to have a second year with any team. Clearly, I’m not very liked after the first year! So, I’ve got quite a bit of work on that. No, joking aside, it’s been great with the team. Great getting to know everyone, and I’m fitting in pretty well. I just hope we can carry on this form for the rest of the season.”