Despite practice crash, Juncos Racing still intends to make Indy 500 qualifying

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Perhaps no team has had a more stressful month of May at the Indianapolis 500 than Juncos Racing.

After losing their sponsorship prior to the start of Indy 500 practice, the team suffered another blow Friday morning, when the team’s primary car was destroyed after Kyle Kaiser made heavy contact with the turn 3 wall.

Such a massive crash would be a setback for any team on the Friday before Indy 500 qualifying, but for a small, part-time team like Juncos, accidents like what happened on Friday morning can eliminate any chances of making the field.

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However, Juncos Racing is refusing to give up. Team owner Ricardo Juncos stated that the team “will not stop working until we get [the] #32 back on track”.

“As everyone knows this has been a very intense month for our NTT IndyCar Series program,” Juncos said in a press release issued by the team.

“Despite off track set backs, that has not stopped this team from going out and performing during practice this week. We have been up to the Top-5 in no tow speeds and have consistently improved our times each day. Now we are faced with the challenge of getting our back-up car on track and set for qualifying tomorrow, but I am completely confident in this amazing group we have here at Juncos Racing to make it happen.”

Juncos may have a long night of work ahead of them, but in the spirit of good sportsmanship, fellow competitors have lent parts and tools to the team in attempt to help them meet their qualifying deadline.

“We want to thank all of the teams who are willing to help out with parts, Chevrolet, and the fans who have stopped by to express their well wishes. We will be working hard all day and night,” Juncos said.

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Kyle Busch happy with first stint: ‘Put me in the car, there’s excitement!’

AP Photo/Terry Renna
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Rolex 24 at Daytona debut of the “KB Show” was cut short by a strategy maneuver but still delivered drama and a positive result.

Kyle Busch got the No. 14 RCF GT3 Lexus back on the lead lap and back in contention for a GTD victory at Daytona International Speedway.

“It was good,” Kyle Busch said with a broad smile after a 42-minute stint. “Just, uh, shit, put me in the car, and there’s excitement around! Drove all my way back to the lead lap and everything.

“Overall, we’ve had a good experience and hell I only got one stint in, so I’m ready for more. Sign me up, coach!”

The two-time Cup champion was expected to drive for at least 90 minutes, but the first full-course caution of the race (with 19 hours and 16 minutes remaining) caused AIM Vasser Sullivan to change up its drive plan. Busch was called to the pits in favor of Parker Chase.

“With all the strategy and the way the wave-bys work here, it’s quite different than what we’re accustomed to (in NASCAR),” said Busch, who likely will drive longer now later in the race. “That wasn’t bad. To get ourselves back on the lead lap and back to a position where we can start scrapping again hopefully is what we needed.

“So I got one stint in, but I’m trying to save myself and (teammate) Jack (Hawksworth) for a little later.”

Busch climbed into the car shortly after 6 p.m. as the last of the No. 14’s four drivers. He complained a few times on his radio about traffic, which he said was his biggest challenge.

“There were a couple of instances we ran down a smaller car, and (it was) just mirror driving in front of us,” he said. “That was pretty bad. We lost probably 2 seconds on that. Overall, I guess that’s road racing.

The yellow flag was exactly what Busch’s team needed after being forced to start from the rear of the field when it missed qualifying because of an engine change. Hawksworth, who started the race, said the car was “quick in the wrong places and slow in the right places” after struggling with handling and speed in the first stint.

“I don’t feel we’re out of it,” Hawksworth said. “It’s a very long race. Still early days. We need to work on having speed for the end of the race. The position right now doesn’t really make any difference. We’ll need to find some performance at the end of the race to fight for the win.”