Juncos Racing is poised for big things headed into the 2017 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires campaign.
After three years of planning and nearly 11 months of construction, the Juncos Technical Center is now open for business. The 41,000-square-foot facility located in Speedway, Ind., is a massive upgrade over the team’s former shop in nearby Brownsburg.
The new facility is geared toward the team expanding and is another milestone in team principal Ricardo Juncos’ journey from Argentina to the United States.
"I came to the United States 14 years ago with absolutely nothing,” Juncos said. “For some reason, life put in place a lot of opportunities which I took. I started as a low-level go-kart mechanic and everything started to unfold after that.
“Who knows what the future holds and what path we will take. Obviously, we feel very happy. Like I said, this is a dream come true, but we will keep moving forward with our progress."
Since coming to America, Juncos has won championships with two current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers – Conor Daly and Spencer Pigot. Daly won the 2010 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires while Pigot claimed the 2014 Pro Mazda title and added an Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship in 2015.
Continuity is also a common theme, as the team announced today at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis that Kyle Kaiser will return for his third Indy Lights season with Juncos.
The 20-year-old from Santa Clara, Calif., had a breakout year in 2016, scoring his first career win at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway in April and another victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Soul Red Finale weekend. Six additional podium finishes kept Kaiser in contention for the championship before finishing third.
“I feel like last year I made huge strides from my rookie season in Indy Lights, so going into this year I feel like I’ll be even stronger than last season,” Kaiser said. “I’m feeling very confident in my ability and the team’s experience that we’ll be contending for the championship.”
Having competed in one of the most competitive Indy Lights seasons in recent memory, Kaiser feels even more motived for 2017.
“The 2016 season was probably one of the most competitive seasons Indy Lights has seen for a long time, so it was a great experience to be right up there fighting against some good drivers,” he said. “Looking back on last season I know there are places we could’ve had better finishes and it could’ve made the difference, but going into this next season, I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.”
Having seen the Californian’s growth, Juncos believes Kaiser has a very bright future.
“We took Kyle at a very green level and have been able to work with him through our driver development program, giving him the tools needed to further his racing career,” the team principal said. “The first season in Indy Lights he completed in 2015 was a little bit too soon, but that was a part of our three-year strategy we set for him.
“This past season he was fighting for the championship, and we know he will be one of the biggest championship contenders for this upcoming 2017 season. Kyle has been amazing from a technical aspect from the feedback he is able to give our engineers. He also has a great attitude and carries himself in a very professional manner, which is very important.”
The final piece of Juncos’ Indy Lights puzzle is 18-year-old Nicolas Dapero, who will move up after competing for Juncos in the 2016 Pro Mazda championship.
The Argentine scored a win in the season-ending tripleheader at Laguna Seca, boosting him to a fifth-place finish in the championship and completing a team sweep of positions 4-5-6 in the standings with Will Owen and Jake Parsons.
Even though Dapero has only one season of Pro Mazda under his belt, he believes he is ready to tackle Indy Lights in full force. Being with Juncos Racing helps Dapero’s confidence.
"I am so happy about the big news,” he said. “Moving up to the Indy Lights series is a very important step in my racing career. I know it will be a great season. I have a lot to learn, but have no doubts that we will be really strong as the season progresses.
"I have always said that Juncos Racing represents more than a team to me, they are family. I have been working with them since 2014 and have learned a lot. I spend a lot of time with them throughout the year and have built a relationship with each member of the team.”
Much like Kaiser, Juncos has worked with Dapero since a very early stage of his career and is pleased with the chemistry established within the team. Juncos is implementing the same three-year development plan used with Kaiser.
“We are going to follow Kyle Kaiser's plan, which has proven to be successful,” Juncos said. "Nicolas Dapero has a lot of similarities as Kyle when it comes to his development with the team. Nico joined our team when he was only 16 years old. He had absolutely no experience in race cars, he had only been racing go-karts at that point. So we took him in at a very green level as well.
“Obviously Nico's target is INDYCAR and to become an INDYCAR driver. We are going to take it easy at this point, we know the challenges are there and we know how competitive the Indy Lights series is and we know that Nico still has a lot to learn. So we are going to look at the first year as a learning year, understanding the car and learning the tracks. We plan on 2018 to be Nico's season in contention for the Indy Lights championship.”