Leeds, AL (April 22, 2017) – For the first time this season, both Dale Coyne Racing drivers made it into the Fast 12 during qualifying for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama with rookie Ed Jones placing 11th and Sebastien Bourdais 12th.
Jones went out in Group 1 during Round 1 of qualifying and immediately placed fifth with his first timed lap on a set of Firestone alternate tires. He continued to improve his time with each lap and would end up fifth in his group with a fastest lap of 1:07.5360. His performance allowed him to make it into the second round of qualifying for the first time in only his third Verizon IndyCar Series event and guaranteed him his best start in the series so far.
Points leader Sebastien Bourdais, took to the track in Group 2 and managed to jump into the Top 6 on his final timed lap of the 10-minute session. His lap of 1:07.6287 was good to place him sixth in his group and send him into the Fast 12 for the second consecutive race.
Both drivers headed out at the start of Round 2 with Bourdais on a set of regular black Firestone tires and Jones on a set of used Reds. They would each complete two timed laps before heading back to pit lane to change tires and minor adjustments after placing 10th and 12th, respectively, in the early part of the session.
Jones and Bourdais each headed back out on a set of used Red tires, with the Frenchman preferring to save a new set for tomorrow’s race. Jones went on to put in a lap of 1:08.2034 which was good for 11th, with Bourdais registering a lap of 1:08.3152 for 12th on the grid, giving the team its best combined qualifying performance this season.
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be broadcast live on NBCSN on Sunday, April 23 from 3:00pm ET (2:00pm local).
Sebastien Bourdais - #18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda
“We made some major changes to the car but they didn’t work. There’s something missing and we’re just not quite understanding what it is. Quite truthfully to make it into the Fast 12 was a big surprise with the understeer we had. Using another set of (Firestone) Reds didn’t feel like the right thing to do to maybe get a better lap time, so we kept a new set for tomorrow and used the same Reds we ran in Round 1. We figured it was best to swallow the pill today and hope for a better day tomorrow with two brand new sets of Firestone Reds. We’re scratching our heads but we’ll keep working and see what we can do. As I’ve said before, some weekends we’ll get it and some weekends we won’t, but we’ll keep on trying and not give up.”
Ed Jones - #19 Boy Scouts of America Honda
“It was a really good day. We started off practice 3 this morning with some changes to the Boy Scouts of America car and I made improvement in myself as well. The team and myself came together and we produced a really good car. We were 12th in practice this morning which was so much better than yesterday. We made a little bit more of jump again this afternoon for qualifying and got through to the Fast 12 which was our qualifying target this weekend, and we’ve accomplished that. I look forward to the race and hopefully we can get another Top 10.”