Photo: Juncos Racing

MRTI: Juncos signs Megennis for Pro Mazda effort

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On the heels of signing Rinus Veekay to a full season effort, Juncos Racing announced earlier today that Robert Megennis, a fellow standout in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, will be joining the team in a second entry for the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season.

Megennis contested the 2017 USF2000 campaign with Team Pelfrey and enjoyed a successful year in which he took his first career win at the season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida. He then entered the Pro Mazda rounds at the season finale weekend at Watkins Glen International with Team Pelfrey, but a crash in Race 1 relegated him to a 12th-place finish and kept him from starting Race 2.

Team owner Ricardo Juncos emphasized Megennis’ performance at October’s Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test as a deciding factor in the team’s decision to sign him.

“After what Rob showed us at the Chris Griffis Test this past October, I am thrilled to add him to our Pro Mazda driver line-up. This test really tests a driver since everyone is watching, unlike most other tests when you are there without the pressure of others. Rob ran into some electrical issues the first day of the test, but that did not stop him from putting up the fastest time in the last session and he came back the next day and did it again. After seeing how he performed under this type of pressure I am very confident he will have a great year in the Pro Mazda series,” Juncos said of Megennis’ outing with them.

Megennis expressed both excitement and optimism about joining the Juncos outfit.

“I’m very excited to be joining Juncos Racing for the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship,” said the 17-year-old Megennis. “We had a great Chris Griffis test, where we led sessions on both days. I have a lot of confidence in Juncos’ ability to not only give me the fastest car on the grid but also to help me become a better all around driver. The team has proven itself in every series it’s contested, and I’m confident that we will perform with the new PM-18.”

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MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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