By: Ashley McCubbin
After sitting on the sidelines last year, Ed Jones will be back behind the wheel of an IndyCar for 2021 – an opportunity he is not ready to take for granted.
“It was a tough year. Well, it was a tough year for everyone no matter what field they’re in. It’s not something individual,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “But not being able to race was probably the first time in I don’t know how long that I’ve been out of a season in whatever series it is. It was always thinking about what to do next. I really got the hunger to come back for INDYCAR. Not only was that year out made me more hungrier to come back, but the way things for me in 2019, I reflect what I could do, probably frustrated me a lot more than anything else.
“It was a combination of things which meant that I really wanted to get back to INDYCAR and knew I needed to get back to INDYCAR. Now I’m fortunate enough to be in this position. I got to take advantage of it and make sure that I perform to where we can with the guys around me, and the team around me I’m really confident we can do that.”
Getting back behind the wheel, Jones admits it took the full morning of his test at Barber Motorsports Park to shake the cobwebs off.
“It was probably the last run of the morning I put it straight up there at the competitive side of the field,” he recalled. “But before that, I was struggling quite a bit. Yeah, it was tough. I’d never driven with the Aeroscreen, as well. The new track paving at Barber has made the car super physical there. A lot of the steering weight is ridiculously heavy. All the other drivers were telling me about it beforehand, but until you actually do it you don’t realize what a change it is. So it was difficult.
“Fortunately had a great team around me, felt very comfortable from the get-go. From that sense it didn’t feel like I’d been out for so long. Everyone was super easy to get along with. Once we got through the afternoon, I felt back up to speed. Everything was good. Going into Laguna, I got in the car straightaway and it was like I’d never been away.”
In his previous three seasons of IndyCar competition, Jones proved he was quite capable behind the wheel, finding his way to the podium on three occasions with Chip Ganassi Racing. While his most recent campaign in 2019 did not repeat the success, he was able to score a sixth-place finish with Ed Carpenter Racing at the Indy Grand Prix.
Repeating the same results will not allow for opportunities to remain forever, and Jones recognizes that as it’s all about continuing to improve as a driver.
“There’s always different small improvements here and there,” he commented. “At the end of the day, as I said before, the field is so competitive. All the drivers in INDYCAR, they’re not looking for big chances, all those minute details. That’s again what helps when you’re in a team where there’s no big egos that throw things off. Everyone is there trying to learn as much as possible and work together. That’s where you find the small gains – where you can make the difference putting everything together. That’s where I believe I’ll find the difference this year.”