The plan for Chip Ganassi Racing had best-of-his-generation Scott Dixon paired with countryman and next season in its downsized two-car IndyCar operation.
That crafty strategy, which would have positioned the two New Zealanders together—Dixon, a four-time IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner, and Hartley, an FIA World Endurance Championship title winner and victor at the 24 Hours of Le Mans—was tantalizing.
Those plans changed today to saddle up as Dixon’s teammate, and with his promotion from the smaller Dale Coyne Racing outfit to one of IndyCar’s most accomplished teams, the 22-year-old native of England says he’s ready for the pressure.
“There’s no hiding. There’s a lot of pressure, which I know, but it’s something I love. If you want to be good in motorsport, it’s part of what a young driver like myself needs to handle to be successful,” Jones told RoadandTrack.com.
For Hartley, who was drafted into the Scuderia Toro Rosso team for last weekend’s Formula 1 race at Circuit of The Americas, his place at CGR changed rather quickly after STR elected to retain his services for the remainder of the season.
It’s unclear whether Hartley’s contract with CGR was bought out by STR, or if CGR chose to part ways after it became apparent the 28-year-old was fancying F1 more than IndyCar, but either way, the outcome has clearly benefitted Jones who has rocketed from winning the 2016 Indy Lights championship to landing with an IndyCar powerhouse in 13 months.
“Being in the same team with Scott [Dixon] and all the people there who’ve won everything possible in IndyCar is something you dream of,” he said. “This is what I’ve been working for the entire time I’ve been in racing, hard work is paying off, and it’s given me an opportunity to have a long career.”