SONOMA, California – Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, part of the ownership group of the team that won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with driver Tony Kanaan, have returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series in a partnership with Dale Coyne Racing.
The announcement today at Sonoma Raceway forms Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, which is fielding the No. 18 Honda driven by four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais. In addition, the team announced that SealMaster will be the primary sponsor on the car for nine of the 17 races this season, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Vasser started as a team owner in 2004 when he was still competing as an Indy car driver. He, Sullivan and Kevin Kalkhoven formed the ownership group for KVSH Racing in 2013 when they won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with Kanaan. Bourdais delivered the team four more wins from 2014-16 before it closed shop and Bourdais moved to Dale Coyne Racing.
“When Jimmy, Sulli and I met to discuss creating this partnership, it was very enticing,” said Dale Coyne, who will continue to run the No. 19 Honda under the Dale Coyne Racing 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, and that we’ve had with Sebastien.”
Vasser, whose 15-year Indy car driving career included 10 race wins and the 1996 championship, admitted to missing being part of the sport when he sat out last year.
“First, I want to acknowledge Kevin Kalkhoven, who gave both Sulli and myself the forum to be where we are today,” Vasser said. “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 recreating our prior success and again challenging for wins in 2018.”
Bourdais, who is participating in team testing today at Sonoma, is entering his 13th season of Indy car competition. His four season titles tie him for second most all time. His 36 career wins rank sixth all time. The 38-year-old is pleased to be reunited with his previous team owners.
“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.”
Sullivan, whose alliance with Vasser started in 2011, is confident that the new partnership can continue the success built in recent years.
“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. “Most importantly, having SealMaster, a world-class brand, on board to support the new team gives us big momentum out of the gate.
“With Sebastien driving, the engineering staff and the crew that Dale has assembled, we are positioned for a banner year.”
Bourdais won the 2017 season opener with DCR in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. He was on his way to becoming the fastest qualifier on the opening day of Indianapolis 500 time trials when he crashed, sustaining hip and pelvis fractures that sidelined the Frenchman for three months. SealMaster – a leading manufacturer of pavement sealer, maintenance products and equipment – will be the primary sponsor on Bourdais’ car when he returns to St. Pete this year, as well as for races at Barber Motorsports Park, the streets of Long Beach, the Indy 500, both races at Belle Isle in Detroit, Road America, Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park. SealMaster will be an associate sponsor on the car for the other eight races.
“Sebastien Bourdais is one of the most successful open-wheel drivers in the sport. He embodies SealMaster’s championship spirit,” said Rick Simon, SealMaster franchise director. “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.”