Sebastien Bourdais, who suffered pelvic and hip fractures after a 118G shunt at Indianapolis in May, will return to the #18 Dale Coyne Racing-Honda this weekend at Gateway and will retain the seat for the final two races.
Team owner Dale Coyne had originally wanted Bourdais to rest up until off-season testing began, after incurring multiple fractures of his hip and pelvis in the 220mph shunt.
But the French ace’s speedy recovery meant he was able to test at Mid-Ohio after the IndyCar race there and in mid-August was given the all-clear to return to racing.
The St. Petersburg winner, who now has 36 wins to his name, said: “You have no idea how excited I am to be getting back in the car this weekend and for the remainder of the season. “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, 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 to the cockpit means fellow ex-F1 driver Gutierrez will be stepping aside, as had been the intention.
“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.
“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.”
Coyne stated: “It’s great to have Sebastien back, 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 who 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.”