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Dale Coyne Racing caps tumultuous month with addition of Alex Palou as driver

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Just one month ago, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan appeared to be in complete disarray. Because of changes to its financial backing and changes to the engine lease contract, the team was unable to move forward with longtime driver Sebastien Bourdais.

Despite having a contract for 2020, the four-time Champ Car Series champion was told by team owner Dale Coyne that the team did not have the funding to continue and he was released from the team.

This past Monday, the team lost its top engineer, Craig Hampson, to Arrow McLaren SP.

That is why Thursday’s announcement from the team that Alex Palou of Spain will be the new driver of the No. 18 car in 2020 was so important.

It proved that despite the recent obstacles, team owner Dale Coyne remains a survivor and will continue leading one of the smallest teams in the NTT IndyCar Series into competition.

Palou, a young driver from Spain, was a Super Formula race winner and Rookie of the Year in 2019.

Palou will be vying for Rookie of the Year honors as he takes on the 17-race schedule. The driver from Sant Antoni de Vilamajor had an impressive season in the Japanese Super Formula Series with TCS Nakajima Racing. In addition to finishing as the top rookie, he scored a victory, three pole positions (the most of any competitor that season) and placed third in the Championship. He also drove for Team Goh piloting their McLaren 720S GT3 this past season capturing the pole position during the last round of Super GT series at Twin Ring Motegi by setting a new GT300 class record.

“I’m very excited about coming to America to race Indy cars,” said the 22-year-old driver. “I’m grateful for all that have helped me get to this point of my career and especially Dale Coyne and Mr. Kazumichi Goh for giving me this opportunity.”

The new arrangement will be known as Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh.

“We’re very pleased to partner with our friend of many years Kazumichi Goh in this collaborative effort for 2020,” Coyne said. “We tested Alex at Mid-Ohio earlier this year and he impressed everyone. His rise in performance over the past three years shows great promise for the future.”

Team Goh has a long history in racing.  It won the 1996 Japanese Grand Touring Championship (JGTC) and became one of the prestigious Privateer teams to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2004 with Seiji Ara, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello.

“Alex shows great promise and we all are excited to continue our relationship with Alex and to see him progress his career towards the IndyCar series,” said team owner Kazumichi Goh. “It will be an honor to be part of the Indianapolis 500, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and we hope to have the same success we achieved at Le Mans 24hr race with our overall win thanks to great team collaboration between Alex and Dale Coyne Racing.”

Prior to his season in the Super Formula championship, the Spaniard raced in the Japan Formula 3 Championship, finishing third in the year-end standings on the strength of three wins and five pole positions. Before his time in Japan, Palou became the first Spanish racing driver to win a GP3 race when he took the victory at the final round of his debut season in 2015 with Campos Racing.

Palou made the jump from racing karts to cars in 2014 and placed third in the EuroFormula Open Championship and second in the Spanish Formula 3 Championship before his move to GP3 where he spent the next two seasons.

DCR had a test with Palou at Mid-Ohio in July.

The team plans to begin extensive testing in February in preparation for the season opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida on March 15th, 2020.

Dale Coyne Racing will have further details on its complete 2020 program at the beginning of the new year. It currently does not have a signed contract with either Honda or Chevrolet for 2020, but is considering its options.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Charlie Kimball joins A.J. Foyt Racing; Tony Kanaan expected back

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A.J. Foyt has hired Charlie Kimball to drive its No. 4 Chevrolet in the 2020 NTT IndyCar season.

Kimball will return to a full-time schedule after seven races last season with Carlin Racing. This will mark his 10th consecutive season of driving in IndyCar. In 141 starts, he has one victory (in 2013 at Mid-Ohio).

“I would not have survived — and I’m not sure my marriage would have survived — another year on a partial schedule,” Kimball said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. “Because it was really tough on me last year watching in races when I wasn’t in the car. The consistency allows me to stay in the rhythm.”

A.J. Foyt Racing fielded cars last year for Matheus Leist in the No. 4 and Tony Kanaan in the No. 14. Team president Larry Foyt told reporters that the No. 14 car’s 2020 schedule was “a work in progress and hopefully have some news on that in the next few weeks.”

Asked if Kanaan, who has driven for Foyt since 2018, still will be with the team, Foyt said, “I’m sure he will. We’ve been working together and getting everything buttoned up.”

Here’s the full release from A.J. Foyt Racing:

Veteran IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball joins AJ Foyt Racing as the full-time driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet with backing from his long-time sponsor Novo Nordisk. The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season marks Kimball’s 10th consecutive season in IndyCar and his 12th season of partnership with the global healthcare company.

Kimball, who ran a partial season of seven races in 2019, returns as a full-time driver in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series this year. The No. 4 car will carry a Novo Nordisk branded livery in the following races: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, GMR Grand Prix (Indianapolis), Texas Indy 600 (Ft. Worth), Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway (Madison, Ill.) and the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Novo Nordisk will be an associate marketing partner in the remaining 11 races.

“I’m excited and honored to join AJ Foyt Racing and be a part of a team that has such deep roots in history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar,” said Kimball, who lives in Indianapolis. “Continuing the partnership with Novo Nordisk is also special since they have been an integral part of my career since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I’m more motivated than ever to work with the team to succeed at every IndyCar race in 2020. Thank you to AJ Foyt Racing, Novo Nordisk and our other partners for this opportunity.”

Team President Larry Foyt expects the partnership with Novo Nordisk and the addition of Charlie Kimball, an IndyCar Series race winner at Mid-Ohio (2013) and a pole winner at Texas Motor Speedway (2017), to invigorate his No. 4 Texas-based team this season.

“Charlie brings a great deal of experience and skill to the team,” Foyt said. “He is motivated to show what he can do behind the wheel, and his recent experience of helping develop cars will be beneficial as we work to get the 4 car moving up the grid. Novo Nordisk has been a long-time supporter of Charlie and IndyCar. We want to welcome them to AJ Foyt Racing and we look forward to joining them in their effort to increase the awareness of diabetes.”

Kimball has posted six podium (top-3) finishes, and an additional eight top-5s. He has finished in the top-10 (6th through 10th) 41 times and has led 163 laps in 141 races.

“We are proud to continue our long-term partnership with Charlie Kimball and look forward to an exciting 2020 IndyCar season with the legendary AJ Foyt Racing,” said Brian Hilberdink, Senior Vice President, Commercial Diabetes at Novo Nordisk. “For more than a decade, we’ve utilized our involvement in IndyCar to share Charlie’s inspiring journey living with diabetes through the Race with Insulin initiative. Charlie is one of the most active ambassadors in the diabetes community and his passion and commitment to making a difference in the lives of those who are living with diabetes is unwavering. We look forward to continuing this tradition with AJ Foyt Racing, Charlie and the diabetes community throughout the IndyCar season.”

Foyt expects to make further announcements regarding new primary sponsors for the team in the near future.