Tristan Vautier competed in his first Verizon IndyCar Series race since Sonoma Raceway in 2015 at the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night and played a starring role, at least in the early stages, before being an innocent victim in the multi-car crash on lap 152 that caused the red flag.
Racing for Dale Coyne Racing in place of the sidelined Sebastien Bourdais, Vautier started an encouraging fifth but to many people’s surprise, worked his way up into the lead by lap sixteen, and led a total of fifteen laps before the crash.
Vautier was certainly in contention for a top result in Texas, but was disappointed that the team ended the race with both his car and the car of team-mate Ed Jones in pieces after both were caught up in the same crash.
“I think I showed everything I could tonight,” said Vautier. “I gave it my all and I raced really hard.
“I’m happy we maximized everything, it’s just a shame to be taken out by something out of our control, and the team really did not need another crash because of all of the crash damage they already had.
“I tried my best to avoid that and race well. Sometimes you can’t do anything about it.”
Team-mate Jones believes he had the car under him to challenge for the win only for himself to also be caught up in the crash. He had braked hard to try and avoid the crash that was unfolding in front of him, only to be hit from behind by JR Hildebrand, which pitched his car into the wall.
“The guys were trying to run three wide, I think Tony (Kanaan) didn’t leave them enough room,” said Jones. “So they crashed, I backed off and hit the brakes, and then I got collected from behind and there’s nothing I could do about that. It put me in the wall and game over.
“Super frustrating to the team, two extremely fast cars, came from 19th and I think we had a chance to win that one. That’s what hurts most.”