INDIANAPOLIS – James Davison is set to replace Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, it has emerged Sunday morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, via multiple sources to NBC Sports and also via Trackside Online.
Dale Coyne Racing is expected to make a formal confirmation of the selection later today, as the process of building up a backup car to replace Bourdais’ trashed primary car continues.
“First off, my thoughts are with Sebastien and Claire Bourdais. This is never the way a driver wants to secure an opportunity. But, of course, it’s the tough game we’re in,” Davison told NBC Sports about subbing for Bourdais. “I certainly am appreciative of getting the call up. I’ve done the “500,” last with (Dale Coyne Racing) two years ago and we had a competitive run, which no doubt helped secure this opportunity.”
Dale Coyne Racing now faces an uphill challenge to prepare its backup car, which is still in road course trim, and Davison was careful not to set any expectations. “We’re in a compromised situation with what time and equipment we have to work with now. But, we’re just going to do the best we can as a team and secure the best result for Sebastien and our sponsors, GEICO, Vibra Healthcare, and Cruz Associates,” he added.
Dale Coyne Racing team manager Darren Crouser confirmed to NBC Sports that Davison has a seat made and will bring it to Indianapolis from the team’s Illinois-based shop.
The Australian driver has made two prior Indianapolis 500 starts with KV Racing Technology in 2014 and with Coyne in 2015, both in partnership with Always Evolving Racing, with his most recent start with Coyne coming under similar abnormal circumstances that year.
Tristan Vautier qualified Davison’s No. 19 Always Evolving Racing Honda that year while Davison was competing in Pirelli World Challenge competition away from the IMS race both on qualifying weekend and the Saturday before the race.
However, a bizarre series of circumstances occurred whereby Vautier also got to race. Carlos Huertas was not medically cleared to drive and Vautier, who qualified one car, was moved over to the other car, the No. 18 car while Davison raced the No. 19 car. The bizarre situation continued when the two cars then collided in the pits together on race day.
This leaves Stefan Wilson high and dry, the Englishman having emerged as the sentimental favorite for the seat at a team where his late brother Justin Wilson achieved so much success and the team’s first win at Watkins Glen in 2009. The younger Wilson was en route to the Coyne garage.
Others such as Matthew Brabham were seen in Gasoline Alley this morning.
This story, like Davison’s sponsor in recent years, is always evolving.