Dale Coyne believes that he is on the brink of striking a new deal with Ed Jones to take the 2016 Indy Lights champion into his sophomore IndyCar season.
Jones has been confirmed as series Rookie of the Year – being the only fulltime rookie, that was a given – but he has also caught the attention of several team owners this year because of some sparkling performances.
These have come despite legendary teammate Sebastien Bourdais’ absence from the DCR cockpit from Rounds 6 through 14, due to his huge accident in practice for the Indianapolis 500. Jones salvaged some of the team’s pride with a brilliant third place on Memorial Day Weekend, although the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award went to Fernando Alonso.
Coyne told Motorsport.com: “Yeah, I’d say we’re close to confirming with Ed. It’s certainly what we want – continuity. This season was broken up quite a bit in a way we couldn’t have imagined – Sebastien’s shunt and a lot of other crash damage that wasn’t our fault.
“So finally getting going again, especially with the new aero package coming for next year, I think we want to keep the team together. I don’t think we’ll have any changes in the engineering lineup and I hope not in the driver lineup.”
Coyne added that he felt continuity would be a big help for Jones, too.
“He’s done a really good job this year, opened a lot of eyes,” said Coyne, “but I’m sure he sees it as a missed opportunity to not be able to learn from Sebastien for a lot of races. So I think he’d like to really have a full season of working alongside Seb. He’s done a very good job already, but I think he knows he’ll go even faster up the learning curve if he stays here.’
Asked when he expected the deal to be finalized, Coyne said: “I’d like to see it done in the next two to three weeks.”
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