Kyle Kaiser will remain in familiar surroundings when he makes his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in 2018. Juncos Racing, the team for which Kaiser has driven the past four years as he climbed the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder, announced today that it will field the reigning Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion for four Verizon IndyCar Series races next season.
The news marks an advancement for both team and driver. Kaiser has been a fixture at Juncos since joining its Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires program in 2014. He drove for team owner Ricardo Juncos in Indy Lights the past three seasons, culminating this year when he won the championship that also earned a $1 million Mazda scholarship to compete in at least three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018.
Juncos – which made its Verizon IndyCar Series debut with a two-car entry at this year’s Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil – has put together a four-race deal for Kaiser that includes both Indianapolis Motor Speedway races next May: the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course and the 102nd Indy 500 on the hallowed 2.5-mile oval. The remaining two events will be announced later.
“I’m very excited to be moving up to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Juncos Racing,” Kaiser said. “Juncos has been a huge part of my recent success in the Mazda Road to Indy. I have the utmost confidence in Ricardo’s program moving forward and I’m very thankful to everyone involved for making this possible, especially Dan Andersen for his investment into the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system which will allow me to take the final step towards a career in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Now, I’m just anxious to get behind the wheel as soon as possible!”
Kaiser follows Spencer Pigot, who won the 2015 Indy Lights title with Juncos to propel him into the Verizon IndyCar Series. It literally drives home the mission of Ricardo Juncos’ driver development program that has helped the team become one of the most formidable in the Mazda Road to Indy, the three-tiered INDYCAR-sanctioned development ladder. Juncos Racing will continue fielding full-time entries in the top two MRTI levels – Indy Lights and Pro Mazda – as it takes a greater step into the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2018.
“This is what our mission is at Juncos Racing, to take drivers to the next level in their career,” said Ricardo Juncos, whose team has been a Mazda Road to Indy mainstay since 2009. “We began with Kyle in the Pro Mazda series back in 2014 and then took him to the Indy Lights series, where he had three years to grow into the driver he is today.
“Each season, Kyle showed tremendous progress on and off track. That hard work and dedication paid off this past season with Kyle winning the Indy Lights championship. Now that Kyle has decided to return to the team for his first run in the Verizon IndyCar Series, (it) shows his confidence in our organization.”
Kaiser, from Santa Clara, California, has been with Juncos Racing longer than any driver in team history. He helped Juncos capture the Pro Mazda team championship in 2014, when he won one race and finished sixth in points. He moved up to Indy Lights the following year, finishing sixth in the standings as a teammate to champion Pigot. Kaiser finished third in the Indy Lights championship in 2016, earning his first series win at Phoenix Raceway. He collected three race wins and three pole positions on the way to earning the Indy Lights championship this season.
The advancement of Kaiser and Juncos into the Verizon IndyCar Series is a shining example of INDYCAR’s goal when it aligned with Andersen Promotions to create the Mazda Road to Indy, according to Jay Frye, INDYCAR’s president of competition and operations.
“INDYCAR is happy to see Kyle and Juncos Racing take this step together since they have been an integral part of the Mazda Road to Indy system for four years,” Frye said. “We welcomed Juncos Racing to the Verizon IndyCar Series at this year’s Indianapolis 500, believing it would lead to a deeper involvement. Today’s announcement shows this to be the case and we look forward to their participation in the four races in 2018, with hopefully many more to come.”