Left to right: Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne, James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo: IndyCar

IndyCar: Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 2018 review

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Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, MotorSportsTalk will review how each organization in the IndyCar Series performed in 2018 and also take a look ahead to 2019.

Thus far we have featured Juncos RacingMeyer Shank RacingCarlin Racing, Harding Racing and AJ Foyt Racing.

Today, we feature Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan. 

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 2018 review: Former CART champ Jimmy Vasser and former IndyCar team owner James “Sulli” Sullivan joined forces with veteran team owner Dale Coyne in early February, just over a month before the 2018 season began.

The team became a one-car effort under the overall Dale Coyne Racing umbrella with four-time CART champion Sebastien Bourdais behind the wheel.

The season began on a strong note as Bourdais won the 2018 opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida, and ended with a seventh-place overall finish after the season-ending race at Sonoma..

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS

Sebastien Bourdais (Photo courtesy Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan)

Team name: Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan

Years in IndyCar: 12 ½ years (including five in CART/Champ Car)

Career wins and podium finishes: 37 and 56 (includes 31 and 44 in CART/Champ Car)

Best career finish: Has won a combined 37 times, including CART/Champ Car championships in four straight seasons (2004-2007)

2018 final standing: 7th

2018 final stats: 1 win, 2 podiums, 1 pole.2018 best race finish: First (St. Petersburg)

SEASON WRAPUP: The season began with a win at St. Petersburg and a fifth at Alabama and fourth in the Indianapolis Grand Prix. But things took a tumble after a 28th place finish in the Indy 500 (due to a crash). The team failed to gain consistency until the latter part of the season, when Bourdais finished sixth at Mid-Ohio, fourth at Pocono, third at Portland and sixth in the season finale at Sonoma. Still, even though there were some disappointments, Bourdais still managed to finish with his highest single-season showing in his IndyCar career (not including CART or Champ Car).

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: This team is much better than its 2018 record showed. Given how strong Bourdais came on in four of the final five races, look for a much stronger season next year. Had it not been for his Indy 500 finish, which dropped him from 3rd to 8th in the standings, as well as struggles at Belle Isle 2 (21st) ad Gateway (21st after first-lap crash), Bourdais likely could have wound up with a top-five finish in 2018. Look for that top-five to come in 2019. Also, Bourdais signed a new two-year contract just before Sonoma to keep him with the Coyne, Vasser and Sullivan organization through 2020.

QUOTE (after season-ending race at Sonoma): “We just did what we had to do (and finished sixth). At the end of the day, it worked out and we finished seventh in the championship, which was the goal (at Sonoma). Thanks to the SealMaster guys, thanks to all our sponsors and let’s do it again next year.”

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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).