More heartbreak for Dale Coyne Racing at Texas

More heartbreak for Dale Coyne Racing at Texas

IndyCar

More heartbreak for Dale Coyne Racing at Texas

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What began as an awesome show of force by the Dale Coyne Racing tandem Saturday night at Texas with both cars running in the top six ended for both Tristan Vautier and Ed Jones in the multi-car crash on lap 151 crash.

Vautier was inside when a sandwiched James Hinchcliffe pinballed off Tony Kanaan and teammate Mikhael Aleshin and turned into Vautier, sending Vautier hard into the outer wall. Jones was situated behind that pack and was hit from behind by JR Hildebrand and spun when he slowed to avoid the wreck.

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“There was nothing I could do, honestly,” said Vautier, who was credited with finishing 19th, to NBC Sports. “They tangled in front and Hinch started spinning and I had nowhere to go. Just a bummer. We were very fast and we could have fought for the win.”

Vautier, who was named to drive the No. 18 Honda earlier this week when Esteban Gutierrez wasn’t cleared to race on the fast Texas oval, challenged for the lead for most of the night. It was the Frenchman’s first race since 2015 when he took over Coyne’s car for Carlos Huertas and ran the final 11 races.

“More than anything I wanted to finish the race for my return,” he said. “I think I raced this way all night, I raced hard but I really had the checkered flag in mind and I wanted to have a solid finish.

“I’m kind of pissed off. I really wanted to see the end of the race. I think we can be proud, we represented [Sebastien Bourdais] well who’s recovering – get well soon, Seb – we really did our best. I think we showed a lot for this race, but I’m a bit sad it ended this way.

“At least I showed everything I could tonight, I gave it all, I raced really hard. I’m happy we maximized everything, It’s just a shame we were taken out by something out of our control, and the team really did not need another crash because of all the crash damage they’ve had.”

Rookie Jones, who worked his way up to sixth after starting 19th, had a front-row seat for the initial crash.

“I got hit from the rear, that spun the car around and put me in the wall backward,” he told NBC Sports. “Nothing I could really do about it, I tried to avoid the incident and got caught up.

“I had a lot of fun [tonight]. For me it’s the most comfortable I’ve been on an oval from the get-go. It was a new track for me yesterday, I just had so much fun racing out there. A lot of the guys were really respectful running side-by-side but there were a certain few who didn’t respect the others and that’s what caused that incident.”

Still smarting from Bourdais’ massive Indy 500 qualifying crash, DCR could be facing an uphill battle to repair its cars.

“It’s a big hit for Dale,” Jones lamented. “Dale’s put in so much effort into this team and the car’s been so strong everywhere, and to have this damage is painful. But this team’s been knocked back so many times in the past and have come back stranger every time, so I’m sure we’re going to be back and even better.”

When IndyCar threw the red flag, Coyne quickly walked over to Kanaan’s car in pit lane and leaned over to have words with the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

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Kanaan was issued a 20-second stop and hold for blocking and avoidable contact.

Gutierrez remains in contention to complete the season for Coyne, but Vautier said he thought Kenny Habul, owner of his full-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team SunEnergy1, would accommodate if necessary.

“Kenny is such a great person, he supports me way beyond my commitment racing full-time racing for him in USA, so he just wants to see me succeed. Always pushes for my career. So if I got the shot [in IndyCar] he will help me out and free me for the races that conflict, but the team might be set.”

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