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.”

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.