When he joined Dale Coyne Racing before the 2017 season, Sebastien Bourdais knew his boss was funding much of the effort by himself. That why he's thrilled by the latest news.
SealMaster, the primary sponsor on Bourdais’ No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda last season, announced Tuesday that it has signed on to continue as primary sponsor for Bourdais’ entry in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season.
“The (No.) 18 car had always been funded by Dale until last year,” Bourdais said. “It’s quite a testament to his passion and dedication to it, but now SealMaster is bringing a great deal of marketing and the commercial side of things to the team. Obviously, Dale doesn’t always have time for that. He has other priorities. It’s nice to grow the team and to add a different perspective.”
The team also announced on Monday that Mouser Electronics, Inc., a leading distributor of semiconductors and electronic components, has returned as a team sponsor as well, along with supplier Molex.
“I have had the opportunity to spent time with the Mouser team members in Texas and can honestly say I was very much impressed with their people and operation,” said Bourdais. “Mouser, Molex and the Dale Coyne Vasser Sullivan team are identical in our pursuits of both speed and excellence. That’s what makes this partnership work.”
Coyne, a veteran of 35 seasons as a team owner, has long funded much of his operation on his own. As the largest owner of Sonny’s BBQ franchises in the restaurant chain, Coyne was able to field cars for drivers like Paul Tracy, Michel Jourdain Jr., Oriol Servia, Cristiano da Matta, Bruno Junqueira and the late Justin Wilson.
But Coyne’s team needed a strong corporate partner to lighten the financial load and draw more attention. In SealMaster, it found that.
“This all started last year when SealMaster came on board, and this announcement solidifies it,” Bourdais said. “I’m happy to be a part of that. We can get things going early and expand and build from what we started last year. SealMaster has done a very fair amount of work. It’s a good cross-exposure for both sides and a good partnership.”
Based in Sandusky, Ohio, SealMaster Franchise System is the nation’s leading source for pavement maintenance products and equipment and the world’s largest manufacturer of pavement sealer. SealMaster joined the team about the same time as Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan – previously partners at KVSH Racing, where Bourdais was the driver – partnered with Coyne last year to form Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.
“It’s a really good combination,” Bourdais said. “Jimmy and Sulli have taken on the (IMSA) Lexus sports car program, so they’re expanding, too. It’s good to have those guys there. Everybody knows Jimmy, so he’s a great addition for us. If they’re not here, then Dale has to carry everything on his shoulders. This really helps us to relieve some pressure from Dale. It’s not that he’s not willing to chip in financially, but it’s a matter of where you draw the line.”
When it comes to Bourdais’ resume, there’s no lines to be drawn. He won four consecutive CART/Champ Car championships in the 2000s, then went to Formula One in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, he joined the NTT IndyCar Series with Coyne. His resume includes 37 Indy car victories, which rank sixth all-time, trailing only A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Scott Dixon, Michael Andretti and Al Unser.
In 2017, Bourdais recovered from serious injuries in a crash during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. He returned to the No. 18 Honda three months later and completed the season.
“The first year, it was all Dale funding my car,” Bourdais said. “This is a really good partnership that helps solidify and strengthen our relationship.”
Bourdais also was important in bringing two of his previous team co-owners, Vasser and Sullivan, on board with Coyne’s team.
“When the KV deal fell apart (after the 2016 season), I talked to Dale and tried to make this happen,” Bourdais said. “Jimmy and Sulli didn’t feel like it was a good time to start up something new at the time, but once everybody got in touch, we were able to present what the potential was. There was definitely an interest. Interest led to talks, and talks led to negotiations, and negotiations led to a deal. It’s been a very productive relationship.”
The team, which includes Santino Ferrucci in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, will open the season this week with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Sunday’s race airs live on NBCSN (12:30 p.m. ET) and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.