SONOMA, Calif. – It’s official: Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan are back in Indy car racing.
Announced Monday morning ahead of a test session at Sonoma Raceway, Vasser and Sullivan have teamed up with long-time team owner Dale Coyne to create Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, which will contest the full Verizon IndyCar Series season with driver Sebastien Bourdais.
The business partnership marks a return to American open wheel competition for Vasser and Sullivan after a one-year hiatus. The duo was most recently part of KVSH Racing, which folded prior to the 2017 season.
“When Jimmy, Sulli and I met to discuss creating this partnership, it was very enticing,” said team owner Dale Coyne, who will continue to run the No. 19 entry under the DCR banner. “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, as well as the success that we’ve had with Sebastien.”
“First I want to acknowledge Kevin Kalkhoven, who gave both Sulli and myself the forum to be where we are today. After extensive talks, I am very pleased and proud to say that we will be continuing that legacy,” added Vasser.
“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.”
SealMaster will serve as primary sponsor of the No. 18 entry for nine of the season’s 17 races, including the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
Beyond Indianapolis, SealMaster’s branding will be featured at the season-opener in St. Petersburg, where Bourdais is the defending race winner; as well as at Barber Motorsports Park; the Long Beach Grand Prix; the annual doubleheader in Detroit; Road America; Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park.
The company will serve as an associate sponsor for the remaining eight races of the season.
“Sebastien Bourdais is one of the most successful open-wheel drivers in the sport. He embodies SealMaster’s championship spirit,” said SealMaster Franchise Director Rick Simon. “The newly formed team brings together owners and members with powerful synergy and the highest standards for achievement. We operate the same way and share the same values so we feel Sebastien and the team will be great brand ambassadors.”
Vasser and Sullivan, who previously collaborated and were partners at both KV Racing Technology and KVSH Racing, have proven to be a successful combination. The duo won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan and then added five more race wins from 2014 to 2016 with Bourdais.
Bourdais will be contesting his 13th IndyCar season, third with Dale Coyne Racing and first under the Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan banner. He is the only driver to win four consecutive American open wheel championships (2004-2007) tying him for second all-time in career titles with Mario Andretti and Dario Franchitti.
The 38-year-old Frenchman has made 171 career Indy car starts, scoring 36 wins (sixth all-time) and 33 poles (tied for seventh all-time).
“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. “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.”
CREDIT: Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan