Dale Coyne Racing

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Gutierrez cleared to drive in Toronto

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After experiencing concussion-like symptoms following a crash in Saturday qualifying, Dale Coyne Racing’s Esteban Gutierrez has been cleared to drive in the Honda Indy Toronto (3:00 p.m., CNBC). The formal announcement from the Verizon IndyCar Series is below.

Gutierrez was in position to advance out of his group prior to the incident, which occurred in the final corner leading onto the front straight away. However, because his crash caused a red flag, Gutierrez lost his two fastest laps and will start today’s race in 21st.

Gutierrez is expected to participate in morning warm-up for the Verizon IndyCar Series, which is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET.

Meanwhile the Dale Coyne Racing has completed its build up of the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda following a late night’s work.

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Gutierrez experienced concussion-like symptoms; TBD for Sunday

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Dale Coyne Racing driver Esteban Gutierrez sustained a heavy accident in qualifying for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto (3 p.m. ET, CNBC) and was shaken up, although able to climb from his No. 18 UNIFIN Honda under his own power in the day.

But his status for race day is uncertain, following confirmation from INDYCAR that he had experienced concussion-like symptoms following his medical evaluation. While he has been checked and released, he is not yet cleared to drive.

Here’s INDYCAR’s official statement: “Following an incident during qualifications today for the Honda Indy Toronto, Dale Coyne Racing driver Esteban Gutierrez was evaluated by INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Gutierrez was treated and released but has not been cleared to drive, pending further evaluation Sunday morning.”

Gutierrez did speak to the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network after the incident and also had quotes in the team post-qualifying release.

“It was not ideal obviously, it’s been a tough weekend overall,” Gutierrez said. “Yesterday we lost a bit of track time due to contact in Turn 1 and today it was a pretty hard hit in a high-speed corner. I was having some understeer and I was trying to anticipate a bit the entry of the corner but I touched the inside wall a bit and it sent me straight into the outside wall, pretty hard. It’s unfortunate and I feel really bad for the team, they have a lot of work to do.”

Sunday warmup is scheduled from 11:30 to noon ET, and if Gutierrez is cleared to drive, he’ll be able to resume the weekend in what is expected to be a new car. Per Trackside Online, Gutierrez’s chassis was damaged enough in the accident in qualifying to where they’d need to go to a backup car, and with Coyne having limited chassis at its disposal, the accident – and the subsequent crash damage – was the last thing they needed.

If Gutierrez is not able to drive, that complicates things a bit. Guelph, Ontario native Robert Wickens, who practiced in Mikhail Aleshin’s car at Road America, could be a candidate to substitute and Zach Veach, who already played the role of injury substitute once this year for JR Hildebrand, is also on site in Toronto and could be available if need-be.

At Toronto in 2013, a similar-type situation hung over a driver’s status for Sunday, but that came in Toronto’s first doubleheader weekend. Ryan Briscoe sustained a wrist injury and was replaced by Carlos Munoz at Panther Racing. It marked the Colombian’s first ever street course start in IndyCar.

Bourdais helping Coyne drivers at Toronto, eyes return

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TORONTO (AP) Sebastien Bourdais is trading in his helmet this weekend for the IndyCar race in Toronto. And he is looking ahead to a possible return near the end of the season.

The Frenchman is returning to the race track in a mentorship role for Dale Coyne Racing just two months after a crash during qualifying for the Indy 500. The two-time Toronto winner will help out team rookies Ed Jones and Esteban Gutierrez. Bourdais finished seventh in Toronto last year.

Bourdais fractured his pelvis , a hip and two ribs when his car exploded into pieces and spun through Turn 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after hitting the wall at 227 mph.

“If I see something, then I’ll try and help, and if I don’t, then I’ll just shut up and see what happens,” Bourdais said Thursday.

“I’ve been around this place a lot, but there’s only so much you can do from the outside so we’ll see how I can help them. It was important for me and the team to show up for the first time since the accident and just get to see everybody and try and contribute to the effort.”

Bourdais, 38, was walking without crutches and says his progress is ahead of schedule. He is not ruling out a return this season.

“Unless I get in the car in testing and call it quits because I’m not ready, the plan is to do Watkins and Sonoma,” Bourdais said of the final two races of the season. “That’s been my goal since really looking at the time frame and where we were going to be at the six weeks weight bearing, the eight weeks walking.”

Seeing the four-time IndyCar Series champion back around the track was a welcome sight. Will Power stopped to chat with Bourdais after the news conference.

“It’s great to see him back, can’t wait to see him in a car,” he said.

Bourdais, who started the season with a win at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, said that he has been starting to exercise again, which includes some cycling.

“It’s kind of a weird feeling because there’s some groups that are fairly equal side to side and one little thing that you feel very vulnerable,” Bourdais said. “But it’s all coming back nice and slow, but it’s going to be a bit of a process for sure.”

Being in a coaching position is nothing new for Bourdais, but it’s never come at the expense of him being sidelined. He said he’s fine with the mentorship role even though it’s tough not to be in the car.

“I’ve tried to be a good patient, not trying to rush things and do anything stupid,” he said. “But obviously now that I’m feeling not 100 percent but not far from it either, it’s definitely kind of itching to get back into the car.”

 

Bourdais to attend Honda Indy Toronto this weekend

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Sebastien Bourdais will make his first trip to a race track since the Indianapolis 500, as he’ll join Dale Coyne Racing drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Ed Jones on site at this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, CNBC).

The Frenchman won the season-opening race of the year at St. Petersburg on a street course and followed it up with a runner-up finish at Long Beach.

After his crash at Indianapolis in qualifying where he sustained pelvic fractures and a hip injury, Bourdais made it back to the track at the ‘500 race morning for his first formal media availability.

Bourdais posted last week he was walking again, which was awesome to witness.

Now, he’ll attend Toronto – a track he’s won at before, most recently in 2014 with KVSH Racing – to support the team’s pair of rookies as they’ll look to succeed in their final street course starts of the year.

Gutierrez made his debut in IndyCar at the Detroit double while Jones has three top-10 finishes in four street course starts (10th at St. Petersburg, sixth at Long Beach, ninth at Detroit race one).

“It’s been an incredible challenge so far to jump from a street course, to a road course to a short oval and now back to a street course,” said Gutierrez, who finished an impressive 13th in his oval debut at Iowa.

“Three different types of racing in a very short period of time, but it’s been very fun.  Now for Toronto, I don’t know a lot about the track as I’ve never been there before but I’ve been told that it’s very bumpy! It will be important to have a stable car over the bumps, so hopefully we can find a good set up.”

Jones, who has finished fifth, third, sixth and fifth in four Indy Lights starts in Toronto, looks for a bounce back weekend after a tough result in Iowa, where he qualified eighth but lost the balance and finished 18th. He’s also battling a left foot injury.

“Toronto is one of my favorite races on the calendar even if I didn’t do that great there in Indy Lights,” said the Dubai-based Brit. “It’s a difficult track and very bumpy. It’s also very technical and tight in some sections so all that combined makes it very tricky but I can’t wait to get on track.

“It will be interesting to see how I get on after struggling at Detroit, but we were good at St. Petersburg and Long Beach. I’m hoping my foot will be better when we get there because there is much more braking than this last weekend in Iowa, but it should be alright. I’ll be resting it up this week.”

Gutierrez: ‘Complex’ ovals will take time to adapt to

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For the first time since what is now the INDYCAR Grand Prix in mid-May, the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda will have the same driver on board for consecutive race weekends, as Esteban Gutierrez continues at Iowa after also being at Road America.

Gutierrez will be in his UNIFIN-backed car at Iowa Speedway this weekend for the Iowa Corn 300, for what will be his oval debut.

The Mexican driver has raced on a street course at Belle Isle Park in Detroit and a natural terrain road course at Road America but now steps into his biggest challenge yet, running on the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway.

His oval debut comes after a test last week with fellow rookie Ed Jones, and Gutierrez was impressed by the challenge of running flat out on an oval.

“It’s great to approach the race weekend having done some testing at the track. Obviously, it’s a completely new racing style for me. An oval seems very basic from the outside but it’s actually quite complex,” Gutierrez admitted in the team’s pre-race release.

“I really enjoyed it at the test and I’m very excited to do my first oval race at Iowa. It will definitely take some time for me to adapt, especially racing with other cars around. That will be an interesting experience.

“I’m looking forward to it. It was really fun to drive on the oval, I think it’s very nice how you can really feel every change, every movement in the car because you are on the limit for so long that you are able to feel everything from the car. It’s given me a lot more knowledge about the Indy car.”

Coverage for qualifying of the Iowa Corn 300 takes place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday with race coverage Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.