Jimmy Vasser has returned to IndyCar after a one-year absence in a partnership with Dale Coyne Racing.
Vasser and business partner James “Sulli” Sullivan merged with Coyne to create Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan for this season. Vasser and Sullivan will be re-united with driver Sebastien Bourdais, who spent three seasons driving for them under KVSH Racing.
KVSH Racing ceased operations last season when majority owner Kevin Kalkhoven pulled out of IndyCar and Bourdais moved to Coyne’s team.
“First I want to acknowledge Kevin Kalkhoven, who gave both Sulli and myself the forum to be where we are today,” Vasser said. “I took a year off from competition for the first time in many years and realized how much I missed it.”
Vasser and Sullivan put together a deal that has SealMaster signed on as primary sponsor for nine of the 17 IndyCar races, including the Indianapolis 500, for Bourdais’ entry. The car debuted Monday during a test session at Sonoma Raceway.
Coyne’s No. 19 entry is not part of the deal with Vasser and Sullivan.
“When Jimmy, Sulli and I met to discuss creating this partnership, it was very enticing,” said 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.”
Vasser and Sullivan, when partners at KVSH Racing, won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with driver Tony Kanaan. They also won five IndyCar races over three seasons with Bourdais.
Vasser was the 1996 series champion, under CART sanctioning, and moved into a team role when he retired from full-time competition after the 2005 season. He handles the competition side in his team ownership role, while Sullivan focuses on business and sponsors.
Vasser likely will be back atop the pit stand assisting Bourdais.
Sullivan, meanwhile, has explored opportunities in other motorsports series, including Global Rallycross. But IndyCar is where both he and Vasser want to be, and teaming with Coyne for a reunion with Bourdais was a strong re-entry point.
“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,” Sullivan said.
Bourdais is in his 13th season in IndyCar, third overall with Coyne. He is the only driver to win four consecutive IndyCar championships, from 2004 to 2007. The 38-year-old Frenchman has made 171 career IndyCar starts with 36 wins career wins, sixth on the all-time list. He’s coming off a second-place finish at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race.
Last year, he broke his pelvis in a crash during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. He was supposed to miss the rest of the season but returned for the year’s final three races.
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