Who are your dream dinner guests? You know the question: “if you could have three people living or dead over for dinner and conversation – who would you choose”. I need to amend my answer. I’d like to put Ricardo Juncos as one of my three people. I am in constant admiration of his backstory and what he is continuing to do. There may not be a perfect way to grow a race team from one car in a ladder series to full-time entry into the NTT INDYCAR Series, but he’s pretty darn close.
Jumping in the way-back machine: Juncos Racing started in American open-wheel racing in 2009 with a Road to Indy team (then it was Star Mazda, last year it was Pro Mazda and now it’s Indy Pro 2000). For their first year in the series, the team finished second. The next year, the RTI domination by Juncos started. With fan favorite and all around great American Conor Daly, the team won the 2010 Star Mazda Championship. RTI domination has been a strong theme for Juncos the past years. In 2015 the team won both IndyLights and ProMazda (with Spencer Pigot and Santi Urrutia). In 2016 the team came in third in IndyLights (Kyle Kaiser) and fourth in ProMazda (Will Owen). They repeated success in 2017 with Victor Franzoni winning the Pro Mazda Championship and Kyle Kaiser winning Indy Lights. Then this past year Franzoni came in fifth in IndyLights and Rinus VeeKay clenched the ProMazda championship.
In 2017, the team first entered into the NTT INDYCAR series with two entries in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500. Sebastian Saavedra came in fifteenth and Spencer Pigot game in 18th for the team. This past year was the team’s first robust attempt in the series. Using three different drivers, Juncos competed in twelve out of seventeen races. Renee Binder competed in six of the races earning an overall finish of twenty-eighth. Kyle Kaiser competed in four races, including the two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and finished thirty overall.
The 2019 season is already off and running for Juncos. They’re not just content with their advancement in the NTT INDYCAR series. The team now has a Daytona Prototype program in the MSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Just a few weeks ago the car, driven by Kaiser, Binder, Will Owens (who drove for Juncos in ProMazda during the 2015 and 2016 seasons), and Agustin Canapino competed in the Rolex 24 Hour race. As discussed during our Rolex 24 Race Report (listen here) and the write up (read here) the team battled some challenges the whole race. However, they finished the race with a thirtieth place overall. As far as the NTT INDYCAR series, they’re hoping to have two-cars running this season. Ricardo is no fool; he understands having two cars at the same race provides double the data and more opportunity to grow. No official word on who is driving for the team, but Kaiser will test for the team at Laguna Seca.
It will be fun to see where this team goes. We had an opportunity to interview their crew chief Richard Jones on Carb Day (you can listen to that interview HERE), and have chatted off and on with various members of the team this past season. They are all dedicated and you can feel the passion in each and every one of them. It’s just interesting to watch this team.
It’s even more interesting when you remember that Ricardo Juncos started this first in Buenos Aires in 1997, and then had to relocate to the US in 2002. He didn’t get to just pick everything up and start it in 2002; he had to basically start over. He worked first as a mechanic in a karting team before starting his own karting team. It wasn’t until 2009 that Juncos first stepped into the Road to Indy. Look back up at what they’ve accomplished and what they are looking for in 2019. It’s only been ten years. Ten years of systematic and proper growth and adaptation. The next few years are just going to be great to watch.