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Jones finishes third at Long Beach

Only second podium of his Indy career and his first this season

Gulf News

Long Beach: Dubai-born Ed Jones fought back from 13th on the grid to finish third for only the second IndyCar podium of his career and the first of this season, in round three of the 17-stage campaign at Long Beach, California on Sunday.

It follows an eighth and 20th place finish in the last two events of the season in St Petersburg, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona, and now leaves the 23-year-old Englishman ninth in the overall driver’s standings.

The only other podium place finish of his career was a third in last season’s Indy 500, that helped him on his way to an overall 14th place finish, which was enough to claim Rookie of the Year last season. It also earned him a winter move from team Dale Coyne to top-two side Chip Ganassi, where he is now expected to compete for overall honours alongside his legendary teammate Scott Dixon, who has four Indy Car championship wins to his name.

“Long Beach has traditionally been a good circuit for me,” said Jones, who was Indy Lights champion in 2016. “It’s an iconic event with a great atmosphere and great fans who give us some fantastic support, so it’s always exciting to go back.

“It obviously wasn’t the start to the weekend we wanted in practice. After going one direction in the morning, we took another direction towards what Scott [Dixon] was doing in the afternoon, which left us with some work to do overnight.

“We didn’t have a brilliant qualifying, either — I think my second lap was going to be my quickest, but I made a mistake and missed out on progressing to the next phase of the session by less than a tenth-of-a-second. That was clearly frustrating, but I remained confident we had a good car for Sunday’s race.

“From where we were on the grid, we knew we would need to try something a bit different tactically and hope for a lucky break with the yellows — and that’s exactly what happened, although it was certainly tough out there because we struggled on cold tyres. Once we got heat into them, it was better and all credit to the Ganassi guys — my crew did an amazing job in the pits and our bold strategy really paid off.

“I let the boys down in Phoenix, so it was fantastic to be able to make it up to them with a podium finish — hopefully the first of many. I’m really pleased with the progress we’re making together as a team, and this gives us all a lot of confidence moving forward. We have a huge amount of potential with our programme, so now we need to keep building upon this positive momentum.”

Round four of the season will be in Birmingham, Alabama, this Sunday, April 22.

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