Tristan Vautier will make his Verizon IndyCar Series return this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, driving the No. 18 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing as he fills in for Sebastien Bourdais.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back in an Indy car and race for Dale again,” said Vautier. “But before talking about me stepping in, let’s all keep sending our thoughts to Seb for a quick recovery. I was happy to see him at the track at Indy on race day. I have big shoes to fill!
“That being said, I really can’t wait to be in the car on Friday and see how it feels that first lap around. It’s not the easiest place to step back in and practice is going to be very limited, but the team has been competitive everywhere and I trust we’ll be good. It’s going to be cool working with the whole team again, and also with (engineer) Craig Hampson, who I met in Le Mans when I was 16 and just getting started in racing. I remember I was asking him about opportunities in the USA and he was telling me to come over.”
Vautier ran the final 11 races of the 2015 season with DCR, posting a best-finish of fourth in Detroit. He has a pair of starts at Texas, in 2015 with Coyne and 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, with a best finish of 18th (2013). While not racing in IndyCar this season, he has been competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, including a pole-winning effort in the GTD class with SunEnergy1 Racing at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“We chose Tristan to fill the (No.) 18 seat at Texas because of his previous experience at Texas Motor Speedway,” team owner Dale Coyne said. “We think he can help the team and Ed, who has never raced or even tested there. Tristan has remained close with the team and he’s always done a good job for us. I expect much of the same going into this race weekend.”
During qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, Bourdais made heavy contact with the wall, suffering multiple fractures to the pelvis and a broken right hip. He underwent successful surgery for his pelvic injuries on Saturday evening, and is currently healing with hopes of returning for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway.
Vautier becomes the third driver to race the No. 19 since Bourdais’ injury, following in the footsteps of James Davison and Esteban Gutierrez. The team has posted a best-finish of 14th in the three events.
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