Dale Coyne Racing endured a difficult opening qualifying session at the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
In his first ever Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying session, Ed Jones who has transitioned from Indy Lights to the Verizon IndyCar Series will start Sunday’s race from 18th place just behind Marco Andretti and Helio Castroneves.
Jones out-qualified his team mate Sebastien Bourdais, a four time series champion. Jones’ fastest time was a 01:01.7598s and speaking following his first Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying Jones stated:
It was a little frustrating that the red flag came out early on. I didn’t get to have a first go at the Firestone Reds so I had to go straight out again on a new set and push from there. For me it was a bit of an unknown how the jump was going to be. The car felt really good and I felt like I was finally there. I felt a lot more comfortable in the car. The difference with the Reds it that I just didn’t have time to adapt. By the time I realized how much deeper I could go, the tires had already started falling off of their best. At least I know for next time. I was really excited to do my first IndyCar qualifying. I just felt at home, so that’s the most important thing. Overall, I’m happy with how it went.
Bourdais who ended the practice sessions with the fastest combined time had a disappointing session as on his out lap in group 2 of round 1 he locked up coming into the final corner and stopped out on track bringing out the red flag.
As per article 8.3.5 of the Verizon IndyCar Series rule book which states:
if a car causes a Red Condition in any segment, the Car’s best two (2) timed laps of the segment shall be disallowed, the Car may not continue in the segment, and the car shall not advance to the next round.
Bourdais was unable to complete a qualifying run and as a result he will start from the back of the grid in 21st place.
Speaking following the session, the Frenchman commented by saying:
I have no idea what happened, everything felt fine in Turn 10. I got on the brakes and got to the last corner and nothing happened. I locked up the inside front and never really slowed down properly. It never happened before. I’ve been very happy with the braking, we’ve just had some overheating issues but that has nothing to do with that. I guess I thought the brakes were in. Maybe I took it too easy around the start of the first lap and by the time I got to start the fast lap the rears were not up and I didn’t get any slowing down from the rears and locked up the front and that was that.