Banner weekend for Juncos Racing as new shop opens; Kaiser re-signs

Photo: Andersen Promotions
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Ricardo Juncos’ story of coming from Argentina to the U.S. and building a team from scratch, from karting initially through the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, is one of the best in North America. It’s been a 20-year-odd process.

This weekend, Juncos Racing moved from its old shop in Brownsburg to a new one in Speedway, Ind., with the grand opening held Friday night. This took three years of planning and 10 months of construction to move into the brand-new, 40,000 square foot facility at 4401 Gilman St.

The team first announced their plans to relocate and build this new facility in May of 2015 in conjunction with the Speedway Redevelopment Commission. The extensive project broke ground in January of 2016 on the corner of Gilman Street and Allison Way and finished on time in early November.

“This is a dream come true for us at Juncos Racing,” said Juncos. “This facility shows where we came from, where we are, and where we hope to go in the future. I left Argentina in 2002 due to the huge financial crisis the country was in and came to the United States. I had $400 in my pocket and no clear direction of where my career in racing would go.  To think that we would one day be moving into our own first class facility was not even a vision.

“However, two years ago the idea of this building became a reality and now here we are. We’re very excited to welcome everyone to our open house this Friday to showcase the future of Juncos Racing. I would like to thank the Town of Speedway, Speedway Redevelopment Commission, Tim McGovern (McGovern Construction), Scott Perkins (Blackline Studios), Dale Kruse (Kruse Consulting), Don Spencer (Spencer Engineering), the team and drivers, and my family for their incredible support this past year in making this opportunity possible.”

The 40,000 square foot building hosts multiple office spaces, eight car bays, a paint booth, simulator room, and machine shop along with parking for multiple transporters.

Additionally, this wasn’t the only bit of Juncos news confirmed over the weekend. Kyle Kaiser will be back with the team for a third season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. He’s the team’s second confirmed driver along with rookie Nico Dapero, and should be a championship contender.

“Ricardo (Juncos) is an extremely passionate and dedicated team owner, and it has been a privilege to drive for him the past three years,” Kaiser said. “The work ethic from everyone in the team has made Juncos competitive every race weekend, and I’m thrilled to be returning for another year. It’s great to be working with a group of guys that I know so well and can trust to do everything it takes to win a championship.”

Photos and videos from the shop grand opening as posted on social media are below:

The road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is not paved for Travis Pastrana, he’ll attempt the DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.