Photo: Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan

Dale Coyne Racing Forms Partnership with Vasser, Sullivan

By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer

Five years removed from their Indianapolis 500 victory with Tony Kanaan, Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan are returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) with Dale Coyne Racing (DCR).

DCR announced at Sonoma Raceway on Monday that the organization has reached a partnership with Vasser and Sullivan for the team’s No. 18 Honda entry, driven by veteran Sebastien Bourdais.

The entry will be ran under the name Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan for the 2018 VICS season. Sponsorship support will come from SealMaster, who were announced as a primary sponsor for nine of the 17 races on the upcoming tour.

“When Jimmy, Sulli and I met to discuss creating this partnership, it was very enticing,” DCR owner of Dale Coyne said in a release. “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.”

Vasser first entered into IndyCar ownership in 2004, prior to the end of his time as a driver. The Californian tallied 10 wins and the 1996 championship in a 17-year career that ended in 2008, and has continued to maintain a presence in the sport in the years since his retirement.

“I took a year off from competition for the first time in many years and realized how much I missed it,” Vasser said of his return to IndyCar. “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.”

Sullivan echoed Vasser’s sentiment ahead of the duo’s open wheel return.

“First, it’s great to be back,” Sullivan said. “We took a step back last year to evaluate and construct our next chapter, and both Jimmy and I, after many discussions with Dale, all came to the conclusion that this was the right time and opportunity to move this partnership forward.”

Monday’s announcement reunites a pairing between Bourdais, Vasser and Sullivan that previously earned four IndyCar victories. The Frenchman ran under the KVSH banner with Vasser, Sullivan and Kevin Kalkhoven for three seasons from 2014-16 before leaving for DCR after the team closed up shop in 2017.

“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.” Bourdais said. “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.”

SealMaster will serve as a primary sponsor for the organization at St. Petersburg, Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach, the double-header weekend in Detroit, Road America, Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park.

In addition to his partnership with Vasser-Sullivan, Coyne will also continue to operate his own No. 19 Honda entry. The longtime IndyCar owner has yet to announced his driver lineup for the effort, though both Zachary Claman DeMelo and Pieto Fittipaldi tested for DCR at Sebring Raceway in January.

Fittipaldi will test for the team again on Feb. 5 at Sonoma Raceway.


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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.