Dale Coyne, Jimmy Vasser, and James “Sulli” Sullivan expect to head into their sixth season of collaboration in 2022 with the No. 18 Honda NTT IndyCar Series entry. And if the long-held plans for Vasser and Sullivan come to fruition by the end of next season, the duo have targeted 2023 as the perfect time to field their own IndyCar program from the same base where their two-car IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Lexus RC F GT3 effort is housed.
“Jimmy and I fully intend to have our sports car and IndyCar programs under the same roof at our shop in North Carolina,” Sullivan told RACER. “But it won’t be in 2022.”
Having purchased their own Dallara DW12 chassis for use at Dale Coyne Racing, supplied an engineering transporter, and other equipment to support the collective DCR effort, Vasser Sullivan has already amassed a significant portion of the assets needed to campaign a full-time IndyCar effort.
The 1996 CART IndyCar Series champion and his businessman/team-owning partner have been on a path towards independence since establishing a large new shop in recent years. Like its IndyCar partnership with Coyne, Vasser Sullivan initially relied upon another team — Canada’s AIM Autosport — to field its Lexus GT Daytona program before establishing a shop of its own and taking the cars in-house without the ongoing support of AIM.
Until the time arrives for Vasser Sullivan to branch out as a standalone IndyCar team, the most immediate task on hand for DCR with Vasser Sullivan to solve is how to dig its No. 18 Honda program out from a disastrous season where returning DCR driver Ed Jones has a single top-10 finish across the first 10 races.
Currently holding 21st in the championship, it’s the worst showing for the No. 18 with any of the drivers who’ve occupied the seat since the co-entry began in 2017. Although Jones has been driving harder than ever, and the car has experienced more than its fair share of adversity this season, a new driver is expected to be installed after the championship concludes in September.
“The 2022 season is going to look different,” Sullivan said. “We’re all in discussions on what next year will look like, and are evaluating our options. We’ve got to be true to ourselves. We aren’t here to participate; we’re here to compete.”
With DCR with Rick Ware Racing’s Romain Grosjean all but confirmed to drive for another team next season, DCR could return with a 100-percent changeover in full-time drivers for the third consecutive year.