Photo courtesy Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan

IndyCar: Jimmy Vasser, James Sullivan join with Dale Coyne Racing to form new team

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After a one-year absence away from IndyCar racing, Jimmy Vasser is back.

Vasser and former partner James Sullivan have joined forces with Dale Coyne to form Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. They will campaign the No. 18 Honda with driver Sebastien Bourdais.

“I took a year off from competition for the first time in many years and realized how much I missed it,” Vasser said in a media release. “This is the next chapter in my racing career, so I want to say thank you to Sully, Dale, SealMaster, our sponsors and Sebastien.

“With their support we are focused on re-creating our prior success and again challenging for wins in 2018.”

The No. 18 team will be sponsored for nine of the 17 Verizon IndyCar Series season races by SealMaster. Sponsorship for the other eight races is to be announced.

SealMaster will serve as primary sponsor for the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 11. Bourdais is the defending winner of that race.

The other eight races SealMaster will serve as primary sponsor will be Alabama, Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500, both races in Detroit, Road America, Pocono and Gateway.

SealMaster will serve as associate sponsor for the other eight IndyCar races on the schedule.

Vasser and Sullivan previously were partners in KV Racing Technology and KVSH Racing, which won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan and won five more races from 2014 through 2016 with Bourdais as its driver.

The team folded before last season when their third partner, Kevin Kalkhoven, discontinued his involvement in IndyCar racing.

“When Jimmy, Sulli and I met to discuss creating this partnership, it was very enticing,” Coyne said in a media release. 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.”

Meanwhile, Dale Coyne Racing will campaign the No. 19 Honda. No driver nor sponsor has been named yet, even though the team was among several other teams that practiced Monday at Sonoma Raceway.

Behind the wheel Monday in the No. 19 was Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time Formula One and CART champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

Bourdais also took part in the test with the No. 18. He is entering his 13th IndyCar season, his third with Dale Coyne Racing and his first under the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.

He won a record four consecutive IndyCar championships from 2004 through 2007, and is tied for second on the all-time championships list with Mario Andretti and Dario Franchitti.

Bourdais, 36, of France has made 171 career starts and earned 36 wins and 33 poles.

“Over the last few years we’ve all captured poles and won races together,” Bourdais said. “This is a team that started small, but what we needed and now have collectively a consistent program from top-to-bottom that can compete at the highest level and contend for a championship.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.