PLAINFIELD, Ill. – Tristan Vautier has been selected to drive the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda in Saturday’s RainGuard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, filling in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais.
The Frenchman takes the wheel of the No. 18 Honda from former Formula 1 pilot Esteban Gutierrez, who was not cleared by INDYCAR officials to compete at Texas due to his lack of oval-track experience.
Vautier, the 2012 Indy Lights champion, last raced for the Coyne team in 2015. During that season, he made 11 starts with DCR, including both his last oval start at Pocono Raceway and 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.”
“I’m really looking forward to getting back in an Indy car and racing for Dale again,” said Vautier. “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 United States and he was telling me to come over!”
This year’s visit to TMS will be Vautier’s third appearance at the 1.455-mile superspeedway. His best Texas finish of 18th came in his rookie season in 2013, while he was driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
“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 this such a special year for me as I return to racing full time in the States for his team,” Vautier added. “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 Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year has a best finish of fourth, registered on the streets of Belle Isle two years ago.
CREDIT: Dale Coyne Racing