Ed Jones says that an offer to join Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2018 IndyCar season was too good to miss, having been unable to reach a new deal with Dale Coyne Racing.
Jones said his availability to Ganassi was a result of delays in re-signing with Coyne given that he no longer had the $1m Mazda scholarship fund for winning the 2016 Indy Lights title.
That prize money was key to him graduating to Coyne this past season, and IndyCar’s only fulltime rookie in 2017 finished third for DCR in the Indianapolis 500.
According to team boss Dale Coyne, the pair shook hands on a second season together, and in mid-September he told Motorsport.com that a new deal was close. However, Jones says the pair could not find a suitable compromise for his sophomore season.
“I don’t want to get into too much ‘He said that, I said that’”, said Jones. “No matter what has happened, I am really thankful for what Dale has done for me, we had a really good relationship with Dale and his wife Gail, who is a big part of the team.
“We wanted to do a deal, we had an idea that we were going to do one, but things were delayed so much that we never got there. [The delay] was in trying to come up with a deal that we could both agree on,” he said.
“Obviously I had the scholarship last year which really helped me out and without the scholarship for next year, it was going to be a lot more difficult for us.”
Jones added that turning down Ganassi would have been the biggest mistake of his career.
He said: “Things happen for a reason and the Ganassi offer was an opportunity and a target I had from when I first moved to the United States in 2015. The goal was to always get an opportunity like the one that I have at Ganassi now.
“It’s a scenario where if I was to turn down what I then got offered, it would have been the biggest mistake I would make in my racing career.
“It’s a sad thing that I am not with Coyne in one sense because I loved being with the team and we got on really well, but on the other hand, I am really looking forward to this opportunity with Ganassi.
“It is one of the top two teams, one of the most successful in IndyCar, and in addition to that it gives me a professional drive. I have been hired to drive.
“There are other factors in there which are really important and enable me to have a long-term professional career with them, which is the target, so it was a no-brainer really.”
Jones replaces Tony Kanaan in the #10 car, alongside incumbent Scott Dixon, as Ganassi reduces from four to two cars.
- Additional reporting by Jake Nichol