Dale Coyne Racing are just one of many team’s to have undergone wholesale changes over the off-season. The Plainfield IL, based team have two brand new drivers with Sebastien Bourdais returning to the outfit following a spell with KVSH Racing while Ed Jones makes the step up to the Verizon IndyCar Series having race in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship last season, the feeder category to the Verizon IndyCar Series.
In sixth previous starts at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, Bourdais has a best finish of sixth and speaking ahead of this weekend’s race, Bourdais commented by saying:
We’re very excited to get the season started. Thanks to Dale we’ve put together a good group of people and it’s been going well so far between the engineers and the technical team. It’s always hard to know exactly where you stand going into the first race of the season, but I really think we have the potential to do well and everyone is anxious to see what we’re going to do. That’s exciting, and a little stressful all at the same time because it puts pressure on everybody. On the other hand, I think it’s a positive kind of pressure because it also means that some people are expecting us to maybe cause an upset. But that’s what we’re here for, and going up against the big teams is what makes it an interesting challenge. I think everyone is going to rediscover the St. Pete track because it’s been completely repaved, even the runway. I drove on the first version of the track back in 2003 and I’ve seen its degradation through the years as it got bumpier and bumpier. They’ve only resurfaced it, so it will likely still have some bumps but it is a new surface so it should be much easier on the tires. It will be interesting to see how that changes things. It will be up to us to adapt to it as quickly as possible to get the best performance out of the car. I always enjoy racing in St. Pete. It’s a home race for me and it’s always nice to race in front of family and friends.
Dale Coyne Racing have the best of both world’s in 2017 with an experienced driver in Bourdais and a rookie driver with Ed Jones in the No.19 Boy Scouts Of America Honda. Jones was extremely impressive during testing for Dale Coyne Racing last season and he will be hoping for a strong start to his Sunoco Rookie season with the Honda powered team.
Speaking ahead of the opening race, Jones commented by saying:
It’s great to finally be so close to the race now. Preseason testing has gone pretty well. I feel very comfortable in the car, even though I haven’t had that much time. I’ve worked well with the team and got along with everyone. I think they’ve taken massive steps forward from where they were last year and I’m really looking forward to getting going. St. Pete is a track I’ve done well on in the past, so it’s a nice place to start again. I can’t wait to see what we can do. For the first race, it’s so hard to know where you stand against the competition because there are so many variables with what people are doing. It’s hard to know until you get to that first qualifying session. With that in mind, for the race, it’s better to not have clear expectations for myself because you never know where you are going to be. I think after St. Pete we’ll have a better idea of where we are and know what to improve on and what to expect and what to aim for. St. Petersburg is a great track. I’ve always loved street circuits. It’s where I made my debut in American racing and it was a perfect debut, so I have good memories there. The track itself is quite technical, it has a good variation of different corners. The infield is very technical and quite tight and then it opens a bit towards the main straightaway. It’s also nice to have the track right next to water. Every year I’ve been there it’s been amazing with a lot of fans there. It’s a very good place to start the season off.