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After leading the final practice session yesterday afternoon, Carlin sophomore Ed Jones continued the momentum that started with a second place finish at Phoenix International Raceway, by grabbing the pole for the first of two Legacy Indy Lights 100 races this weekend.

The Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels No. 11 of Ed Jones (Carlin) (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

The Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels No. 11 of Ed Jones (Carlin) (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Jones told IndyCar radio that they struggled during yesterday morning’s practice, but made a huge improvement in the afternoon session. The 20 year-old also credited doing a sticker tire run late yesterday afternoon as giving them a good baseline to start from for qualifying.

This is the fourth career Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire pole for Jones, and the first in 2016.

In a bit of a surprise, it is Juncos Racing rookie Zachary Claman De Melo will start outside of Jones. In the previous four races, the best that the 17 year-old has started is seventh, and he told IndyCar radio that he is happy starting second, but thought that the driver and car had a little bit more in it.

Claman De Melo’s championship leading Juncos Racing teammate Kyle Kaiser will start inside the fifth row, and will surely have his newfound maturity and patience tested.

In our preview, we mentioned that Andretti Autosport’s Dean Stoneman has raced extremely well, but has yet to come to grips with the Cooper Tires in qualifying, and would have to get that issue sorted if he wanted to chase wins and podiums. The 25 year-old clearly found the answer in qualifying and after starting a previous best ninth at Phoenix International Raceway, the No. 27 will roll off on the inside of the second row for today’s race.

Drivers spent the first-half of the session getting their turbo-charged 2.0L Mazda engines warmed-up to proper operating temperatures, and as the first on-track session on Saturday, feeling out the the semi-green track.

Ten minutes into the 30 minute qualifying session and the top five were: Felix Rosenqvist, Kaiser, RC Enerson, Santiago Urrutia, and Shelby Blackstock. The five drivers were separated by only one-tenth of a second.

Juan Piedrahita had a spin at T9, but was able to keep his engine fired and the session remained green for the entire scheduled 30 minutes.

With ten minutes left in qualifying the top five were: Enerson, Blackstock, Urrutia, Jones and Stoneman. This time it was three-tenths of a second that separated the top quintet.

Most teams utilized two sets of sticker Cooper Tire slicks for qualifying and with the cooler early morning temperatures, finding the optimal lap for speed was tricky.

It’s not uncommon to see the top spot change a dozen times in the last few minutes of qualifying, but this morning it only changed hands twice in the last four minutes when Jones topped Claman De Melo with about two and half minutes to go.

Felix Serralles, who currently sits second in the championship lost his quickest lap of the session due to qualifying interference. He ended up qualifying 12th.

With the top two in points struggling in qualifying this opens up a great opportunity the rest of the field to climb back into the hunt for the $1million Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship.

The only car to not take part in qualifying was Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian veteran Scott Anderson who according to the team, was side lined with a turbo charger issue.

All 15 drivers that took place in qualifying were separated by only one second, and the five teams were represent in the top five.

Final qualifying results:

1 Ed Jones 1:12.674 0.000
2 Zachary Claman De Melo 1:12.847 0.1734
3 Dean Stoneman 1:12.856 0.1826
4 Felix Rosenqvist 1:12.908 0.2344
5 RC Enerson 1:12.975 0.3012
6 Shelby Blackstock 1:12.990 0.3159
7 Santiago Urrutia 1:12.995 0.3208
8 Zach Veach 1:13.245 0.5716
9 Kyle Kaiser 1:13.286 0.6124
10 Scott Hargrove 1:13.319 0.6454
11 Dalton Kellett 1:13.348 0.6739
12 Felix Serralles 1:13.373 0.6988
13 Juan Piedrahita 1:13.524 0.8504
14 Neil Alberico 1:13.623 0.9487
15 Andre Negrao 1:13.769 1.0956
16 Scott Anderson No Time —

The first of two Legacy Indy Lights 100 races rolls of at noon (CT).

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You can find our Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire preview here —>
You can find the Practice 1 recap here —>
You can find the Practice 2 recap here —>