46 FALL 2016
MAZDA ROAD TO INDY
A hard-fought Indy Lights championship puts Ed Jones
on the fast track to an IndyCar Series debut in 2017.
MAIN IMAGE Joe Skibinski/IMS Photo
s a rookie, Ed Jones opened the
2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper
Tires season with three straight wins.
As a sophomore in ’ 16, he didn’t match
that total all year – but still walked away
with the championship, and the prize of
a $1 million scholarship toward a Verizon
IndyCar Series drive in 2017.
“It was quite an odd season,” Jones
reflects. “We started at St. Petersburg
expecting to do well after last year, and
had quite a bad weekend. But after that,
we put together a string of really strong
results and got some good momentum.”
During the first part of the year it
seemed that Jones’s biggest threat was
going to be highly-credentialed rookie
A close field made Indy Lights wins hard to
come by in 2016. Ed Jones earned his first
of the year at Barber in April (ABOVE), and
followed it up on the Indy road course.
at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“When I look back on it, it really
shouldn’t have been that close,” he says.
“We really should have wrapped it up a
lot earlier. But it was very competitive.
There were a lot of people getting wins.”
Now, though, the champion’s trophy is
safely on the mantlepiece and Jones can
begin preparing to follow in the footsteps
of 2015 Lights champion Spencer Pigot,
who converted a three-race IndyCar
opportunity with RLL into a multi-race
deal with ECR.
“I can’t thank the Mazda Road to Indy
enough, and Mazda and Cooper Tires, for
the series that they’ve produced,” says
Jones. “Coming over to race in America
is the best decision I’ve made.”
For the latest from Indy Lights,
check out indylights.com
“We should have wrapped
it up earlier, but it was very
competitive. There were a
lot of people getting wins”
and fellow Brit Dean Stoneman. Their
rivalry reached a crescendo at the
Freedom 100, where Stoneman
ultimately got the better of Jones by
just 0.0024sec – the closest finish in
Indianapolis Motor Speedway history.
Stoneman’s fortunes took a slide over
the back half of the season, and he
eventually finished fifth in the standings.
But in his place, a whole new set of
contenders emerged – Santi Urrutia,
Zach Veach and Kyle Kaiser all won races
during the second half of the year. Jones
finally secured the crown with a passing
move on his Carlin teammate Felix
Serralles on the final lap of the final race