Dale Coyne Racing announced that Sebastien Bourdais will return to drive the team’s No. 18 Honda this weekend at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline, less than 14 weeks after the four-time Indy car champion suffered hip and pelvic fractures when he crashed during an Indianapolis 500 qualifications attempt.
Bourdais made an amazing recovery from the injuries and was cleared to drive by Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director, on Aug. 16 following a successful test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 31. He will join the rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series field for practice on Friday to open the race weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.
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“You have no idea how excited I am to be getting back in the car this weekend and for the remainder of the season,” said Bourdais, who won the season-opening race in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida, in March to run his career victory total to 36 – sixth best all time. “It’s been a long 14 weeks and I’ve worked very hard to get to this point.
“Following the crash, I had one goal in mind and that was to be back for Sonoma (the season finale on Sept. 17), and here I am getting back in the car with three races to go. It’s a bit unbelievable but I can’t wait to try out that new surface at Gateway this weekend!”
Bourdais’ return means rookie Esteban Gutierrez will be stepping aside, as planned, to allow the Frenchman to get back in the car.
“It’s been a very interesting few months for me getting to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series on the street circuits, road courses and especially ovals,” said Gutierrez, whose best finish in seven races was 13th place at Iowa Speedway. “I want to thank the team and Dale Coyne for giving me this opportunity to gain this experience in view of a full-time program in the Verizon IndyCar Series next year. My goal was to learn as much as possible in order to be ready for 2018, where a new car will be introduced. This experience with the team will pay dividends next season.”
Bourdais will team once again with rookie Ed Jones in the Dale Coyne Racing stable for the final three races – the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 on Saturday, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen on Sept. 3 and the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 17 to conclude the 2017 season.
“It’s great to have Sebastien back,” team owner Dale Coyne said, “but I want to thank Esteban for the amazing job he did filling in for him these last few months. It wasn’t easy for him coming in and having never driven an Indy car, but he did a fantastic job, especially on the ovals. For someone that had never driven on an oval track before Iowa in July, he impressed a lot of people including myself. Hopefully we get to work with him again in the future.”
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network beginning at 9 p.m. ET Saturday. The race will come 14 weeks to the day since Bourdais' crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.