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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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.