Plainfield, IL (June 7, 2017) – Tristan Vautier has been selected to drive the #18 Dale Coyne Racing entry at this weekend’s RAINGUARD Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) alongside Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Ed Jones who will be making his first appearance on the high-speed oval.
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,” commented 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,” expressed 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 in 2015.
After an impressive performance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weeks ago where he finished third, Jones is excited to be returning to an oval track, even if he knows it won’t be an easy weekend.
“It will be my first time racing at Texas Motor Speedway,” shared the driver of the #19 Boy Scouts of America car. “I’ve watched a lot of the previous races. It looks like a really good track for racing, but it might take a little bit of time to get used to initially. It will be about being able to build up confidence quickly and to adapt to the style of the track and the race. We missed the Texas test in April so it might be a little tough as we’ll have some extra work to do to catch up to the others that tested there but I have confidence in the Dale Coyne team. It will also be nice to get back to an oval track after our performance at Indy.”
Vautier and Jones will only get 75 minutes of practice time starting at 10:00am local time Friday, June 9 before heading into qualifying on Friday afternoon. Fans can watch live qualifying coverage on NBCSN starting at 3:30pm ET.
The RAINGUARD Water Sealers 600 will go green on Saturday, June 11 at 8:45pm ET and will be broadcast live on NBCSN from 8:00pm ET.