Tristan Vautier Joins Coyne For Texas

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Tristan Vautier
Tristan Vautier will join Dale Coyne Racing for Saturday's Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. (IndyCar Photo)

PLAINFIELD, Ill. – Tristan Vautier will drive the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda during the Verizon IndyCar Series RAINGUARD Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway this Saturday.

Vautier, the 2012 Indy Lights champion, last raced for the team during the 2015 season, making 11 starts, which included both his last oval start at Pocono Raceway as well as his last visit to Texas Motor Speedway.

“We chose Tristan to fill the 18 seat at Texas because of his previous experience at Texas Motor Speedway,” said team owner Dale Coyne. “We think he can help the team and Ed (Jones) who has never raced or even tested there. Tristan has remained close with the team and he’s always done a good job for us. I expect much of the same going into this race weekend.”

This year’s visit to TMS will be Vautier’s third appearance at the 1.455-mile superspeedway.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back in an Indy car and race for Dale again,” said Vautier. “But before talking about me stepping in, let’s all keep sending our thoughts to Seb for a quick recovery. I was happy to see him at the track at Indy on race day. I have big shoes to fill.

“That being said, I really can’t wait to be in the car on Friday and see how it feels that first lap around. It’s not the easiest place to step back in and practice is going to be very limited, but the team has been competitive everywhere, and I trust we’ll be good. It’s going to be cool working with the whole team again, and also with Craig Hampson who I met in Le Mans when I was 16 and just getting started in racing. I remember I was asking him about opportunities in the USA and he was telling me to come over.

“I’m super grateful to Dale for renewing his trust in me like he did in 2015, and I also want to send a big thanks to SunEnergy1 Racing and my team owner Kenny Habul, who is making 2017 such a special year for me, as I return to racing full time in the USA for his team. He is much more than a team owner to me, he wants to see me succeed and supports me in everything I do beyond my commitments with him in sports cars. He is a true blessing. Now it’s time for me to focus and deliver this weekend.”

The 2013 Rookie of the Year, who hails from France, has a best finish of fourth in the IndyCar Series, registered on the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit, Mich., in 2015.

Coyne had hoped to have Esteban Gutierrez, who drove the No. 18 last weekend in Detroit, back in the car this weekend. However Gutierrez has no oval experience and IndyCar would not clear him to race.

Gutierrez, James Davison and now Vautier have taken turns driving the No. 18 in place of Sebastian Bourdais, who was injured during Indianapolis 500 qualifying. d