In a press release from Dale Coyne Racing, the Honda-powered team announced a slight name change for their No. 18 car driven by Sebastien Bourdais. Now known as Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, former KVSH Racing partners Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan have joined the Dale Coyne Racing efforts for the 2018 season.
The trio will join forces for the upcoming Verizon IndyCar Series campaign with the support of SealMaster, the co-primary sponsor that is set to fund the team’s efforts in nine races next season. That includes the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, as well as races at St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park, the Dual in Detroit, Road America, Pocono and Gateway.
Seal Master will serve as an associate sponsor for the remaining eight races in which they are not the No. 18 car’s primary sponsor.
After a one-year hiatus from IndyCar competition, Vasser reunites with both Bourdais and Sullivan in a KVSH Racing homecoming. The trio won five races together from 2014 to 2016, and captured the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan as their driver. Ever grateful for the support of Kevin Kalkhoven, Vasser is excited to move forward with Bourdais and Sullivan in a new environment.
“First I want to acknowledge Kevin Kalkhoven, who gave both Sulli and myself the forum to be where we are today,” Vasser said in the team’s official press release. “After extensive talks, I am very pleased and proud to say that we will be continuing that legacy.
“I took a year off from competition for the first time in many years and realized how much I missed it. This is the next chapter in my racing career, so I want to say thank you to Sulli, Dale, SealMaster, our sponsors and Sebastien. With their support we are focused on re-creating our prior success and again challenging for wins in 2018.”
As the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing team reloads for the 2018 season, the program that was on the rise in 2017 before Bourdais’ savage accident at Indianapolis continues to strengthen.
With Bourdais the defending winner of the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, the potential for another hot start has been ignited by these positive developments within the team.
“When Jimmy, Sulli and I met to discuss creating this partnership, it was very enticing,” said team owner, Dale Coyne. “They’ve had a lot of success in their previous years in IndyCar, and I’m thrilled to have them as partners. It’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down as we move forward with this program.
“The future is bright, and we’re excited to get the season going with SealMaster onboard as a co-primary sponsor. Hopefully we can continue the success Jimmy and Sulli have had, and that we’ve had with Sebastien.”
Revealed by Bourdais himself, this has been a deal in the works for over a year. The incentive to reunite with both Sullivan and Vasser was intriguing for the open-wheel veteran, and all that was missing was the partnership link. By adding SealMaster, the group found that common ground that will allow the trio to work together once again. It is expected that Vasser will call races for Bourdais in 2018.
“I want to thank Dale Coyne, Jimmy Vasser and Sulli for the opportunity to move forward with this program that’s been in the works for over a year.” said Bourdais in the Dale Coyne Racing press release.
“Over the last few years we’ve all captured poles and won races together. This is a team that started small, but what we needed, and now have collectively, is a consistent program, from top-to-bottom that can compete at the highest level and contend for a championship. I am very excited to get in this SealMaster car and represent such a great company.”
Look out for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan to start quick in 2018 as the transition to a new universal aero kit seems to fit in Bourdais’ driving style. The four-time Champ Car World Series champion has a wealth of experience to rely on when adapting back to a lower downforce open-wheel Indy car.
With the success the team experienced in the early parts of 2017, expect Bourdais to run near the top of the timesheets at St. Petersburg, Phoenix, Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park.
Last year’s addition of Craig Hampson to the Dale Coyne Racing engineering staff made a world of difference for both DCR entries, and they took a sizable leap forward at Indianapolis with speeds in-line with the pole sitter during Indianapolis 500 qualifying prior to Bourdais’ accident. Expect the crew to be strong at Indianapolis once again this May, and for Dale Coyne Racing to have a hand in at least three (and possibly four) Indianapolis 500 entries.
Images courtesy of IndyCar Media. The official press release from Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan can be accessed here.