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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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