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IndyCar: Juncos Racing 2018 Season Review

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Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, MotorSportsTalk will review how each organization in the IndyCar Series performed in 2018 and also taking a look ahead to 2019. We kick off the series today with Juncos Racing.

Juncos Racing dipped its toe in the IndyCar waters in 2017 with a two-car effort in the Indianapolis 500. They went even farther into the IndyCar waters in 2018, running 12 of 17 races.

Juncos’ history in the junior categories is a storied one. Ricardo Juncos’ organization has numerous karting titles, three Pro Mazda championships (2010, with Conor Daly, 2014, with Spencer Pigot, and 2017, with Victor Franzoni), and a pair of Indy Lights titles (2015, with Spencer Pigot, and 2017, with Kyle Kaiser).

Despite their history, their foray into IndyCar was always going to be tough – new teams rarely run up front out of the box. Juncos’ task was made even harder with three different drivers, all rookies, sharing driving duties in the No. 32 Chevrolet in 2018.

Still, the 2018 season will serve as a solid foundation as they continue to develop their IndyCar program.

 

Kyle Kaiser

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Team: Juncos Racing
Years in IndyCar: 1
Career wins and podiums: 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
2018 final standing: 30th
2018 final stats: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 16th (Long Beach)

SEASON WRAPUP: Kyle Kaiser, the 2017 Indy Lights champion, could only run four races in his 2018 IndyCar season due to budget reasons, so it’s difficult to gauge his performance. Contact ended his night early at ISM Raceway, and a mechanical failure dropped him out of the Indy 500 just passed the halfway point.

However, he finished his other two starts (Long Beach and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course) and didn’t make any major mistakes along the way, an underrated and vital component of any driver first breaking into IndyCar.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Kaiser’s future is uncertain as he does not yet have any races lined up for 2019. However, he is reportedly working on at least an Indy 500 entry, and more races could materialize. A full-season effort would obviously be the ideal scenario, but it remains to be seen if that comes to fruition.

QUOTE (following his Indy 500 effort, in which he finished 29th): “We had a really good race car. We were hanging with guys that were running up front and we were fighting through the field. We are not 100% sure what put us out of the race, but we know that it was out of our control.  I am just very happy with everything this month. It was a great experience. I was improving and I learned so much.”

 

Rene Binder

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Team: Juncos Racing
Years in IndyCar: 1
Career wins and podiums: 0 wins, 0 podiums
2018 final standing: 28th
2018 final stats: 6 starts, 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 tops fives, 0 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 16th (Barber Motorsports Park)

SEASON WRAPUP: Rene Binder, who won four races in the 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 championship, brought sponsorship to the Juncos outfit, which helped them add races to their program. However, despite the success in Europe, his IndyCar campaign was a struggle – he finished 21st or worse in four of his six starts.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: It is not known if Binder will return to IndyCar. He obviously brought sponsorship with him in 2018, and if that continues in 2019, it’s always possible that he returns, either with Juncos or with a different team.

QUOTE (following Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, his final start of 2018, where he finished 21st): “It was a tough race and it was a really long one. We had a decent race and a good start at the beginning. Our strategy was working well with the Firestone red tires and we were able to make up some positions. Even though we did not finish where we hoped to, I am pleased overall and this has been a great experience running in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

 

Alfonso Celis Jr.

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Team: Juncos Racing
Years in IndyCar: 1
Careers and podiums: 0 wins, 0 podiums
2018 final standing: 36th
2018 final stats: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 tops fives, 0 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 17th (Portland International Raceway)

SEASON WRAPUP: Celis Jr. ran a pair of Indy Lights races, at Barber, before Juncos moved him up to the IndyCar team for two starts, at Road America and Portland International Raceway. He finished 20th and 17th, hardly noteworthy on paper, though he did finish both races without incident and brought the car home in one piece each time. Given his lack of experience, that was about all you could expect.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: A full season of Indy Lights competition would do him a world of good, but he may also be in the running for an IndyCar seat if he brings the needed funding.

QUOTE (following Portland International Raceway, where he finished 17th): “The main goal was to finish and we completed that today. We had a good strategy going into the race. In the beginning, I battled some issues with my radio, but I was able to fix it. I think I was also pushed out wide a couple of times, so we lost some positions there. Overall, I am happy with finishing on the lead lap. I want to thank the Juncos Racing crew for all of their hard work and my family and friends for being here to support me.”

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Supercross: Tomac, Roczen square off in Arlington; Webb gives chase

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The Monster Energy Supercross championship battle remains tight after Eli Tomac took the lead from Ken Roczen just last week at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Now the series heads to Arlington, Texas, and the AT&T Stadium for Round 8. (Watch on NBCSN or stream live.)

Tomac’s third win of the 2020 season and Roczen’s third-place finish at Tampa gives Tomac a four-point advantage in what is essentially a wide-open title fight with three races on tap in Arlington.

And while it is still much too early to call this a two-man battle, Cooper Webb is 11 points back with Justin Barcia 20 points out and Adam Cianciarulo 27 points in arrears – and all three cannot afford to lose any ground this week.

Tomac has the momentum. He allowed the field to get a jump after finishing seventh at Anaheim in the season opener, but finished fourth or better in the remaining events.

Roczen also got off to a slow start in Anaheim 1 with a sixth-place finish. He seemed to have a firm grasp on the red plate with four consecutive podium finishes until he slipped to sixth for a second time at San Diego.

Webb is coming into his own with three consecutive podiums in the last three events. If not for a 12th at St. Louis, he would be in immediate contention for the red plate.

This week is the second Triple Crown race of the season and Roczen hopes he has the same success as he did at Glendale. He won all three Mains that weekend and easily walked away with the overall victory. Tomac finished 2-2-3 for second overall. It is going to be imperative that a rider takes the early lead.

Blake Baggett qualified for last week’s Main, but chose to sit it out after experiencing sever muscle spasms. He will ride in Arlington.

Henry Miller will return to riding at Arlington after breaking a scapula in Australia.

Subscribe to the Supercross Pass for complete qualification and race coverage of the 2020 season.

For the third time in his career, Shane McElrath started the season with a victory. He won the season-opener in 2017 and 2018 in the West division at Anaheim, but failed to lock down a 250 title. His seventh career win moved him to 25th on the chart, however, with Travis Pastrana, Trey Canard, and a host of others.

Chase Sexton got his title hunt off to a strong start last week as well. He finished second to earn his 10th podium in 19 starts, but he will be hungry for a win. Despite the fact that he won last year’s 250 West championship, he has only one race victory to his credit.

Last week, Jeremy Martin looked like he had not been off his bike for more than a year. Returning from a 2018 injury, Martin snagged a podium finish in his first race back.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 1 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold
Race: 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSN

Last Week:

Eli Tomac beat Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Shane McElrath beat Chase Sexton and Jeremy Martin in the 250 class.

Last Dallas race (February, 2019):

Cooper Webb beat Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Austin Forkner beat Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton in the 250 class.

Points Leaders

450s:
Eli Tomac (155)
Ken Roczen (151)
Cooper Webb (144)
Justin Barcia (135)
Adam Cianciarulo (128)

250 West:
Dylan Ferrandis (135)
Justin Cooper (128)
Austin Forkner (122)
Brandon Hartranft (110)
Alex Martin (98)

250 East:
Shane McElrath (26)
Chase Sexton (23)
Jeremy Martin (21)
Garrett Marchbanks (19)
Jordon Smith (18)

Wins

450

(3) Eli Tomac (Anaheim 2, Oakland and Tampa)
(2) Ken Roczen (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Barcia (Anaheim 1)
(1) Cooper Webb (San Diego)

250 West

(3) Dylan Ferrandis (Anaheim 2, Oakland, and San Diego)
(2) Austin Forkner (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Cooper (Anaheim 1)

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath (Tampa)

Top-5s

450

(6) Eli Tomac
(6) Cooper Webb
(5) Jason Anderson
(5) Ken Roczen
(5) Justin Barcia
(3) Adam Cianciarulo
(2) Zach Osborne
(2) Blake Baggett
(1) Justin Hill

250 West

(5) Dylan Ferrandis
(5) Austin Forkner
(5) Justin Cooper
(4) Michael Mosiman
(4) Brandon Hartranft
(3) Alex Martin
(1) Christian Craig
(1) Jett Lawrence
(1) Jacob Hayes
(1) Luke Clout

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath
(1) Chase Sexton
(1) Jeremy Martin
(1) Garrett Marchbanks
(1) Jordon Smith

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