IndyCar: The fast rise of Juncos Hollinger Racing

Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Eight years ago, Ricardo Juncos announced plans to open the Juncos Technical Center, a key first step in Juncos Racing making the leap to IndyCar. 

By that point, Juncos Racing was well established in the Indy Pro 2000 and Indy NXT (formerly Indy Lights) championships. Since 2009, the team has won seven drivers’ championships across the two IndyCar feeder series.

From 2017 through 2019, they were making regular appearances in the Indy 500, with at least one car in the field in each of the three years. Their best finish was when Sebastian Saavedra finished in 15th place in 2017.

After three average years of only running the Indy 500, the team took 2020 off due to funding difficulties related to COVID-19.

Enter Chairman and CEO of Vibra Healthcare, Brad Hollinger. Hollinger was a large shareholder in the Williams Formula 1 team, but he decided to leave once new ownership was brought in during the 2021 season.

Hollinger’s investment in Juncos Racing ultimately helped the team get back into IndyCar and led to the current name, Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Juncos Hollinger Racing caught the tail end of the 2021 season. Formula 2 driver and Ferrari Formula 1 test driver Callum Ilott was brought in to run the last three races of the season.

Understandably, those races were tough on the young driver and rebounding team. Ilott did not finish two of the races and finished in 22nd place in the other.

The 2022 season was the team’s and Ilott’s first full season in IndyCar. Overall, for a team and driver running the full series for the first time, the year was a success. Ilott finished in 20th place in the championship standings and was consistently strong in qualifying, even securing a front row starting spot at Laguna Seca. He also snagged two top 10 finishes.

This past offseason was a busy one for Juncos Hollinger Racing. First of all, they were able to lock Ilott into a long-term deal, marking a clear vote of confidence in both Ilott’s driving ability and the team’s plans for the future.

Secondly, they made waves — and raised a few eyebrows — with their signing of Agustin Canapino. There is no questioning that the 33-year-old touring driver from Argentina has had a decorated racing career. The decision was seen by just about everyone as questionable because Canapino entered IndyCar with essentially zero open-wheel racing experience.

For a team expanding their driver lineup and looking to better establish themselves in the series, the move felt unnecessarily risky.

Preseason testing was Juncos Hollinger Racing’s chance to prove what they’ve been building up toward. Ilott was consistently fast and finished as high as second place during the sessions. Canapino was consistently in the bottom third of timings, but anything beyond last place was a positive for him.

If the preseason testing wasn’t enough to get the team noticed, they’ve ensured as much during the first two races of the year.

Ilott is one of only six drivers to finish both races in the top 10. His ability to stay out of trouble in St. Petersburg led to a fifth place finish. A ninth place finish at Texas Motor Speedway proves that he is going to be a threat beyond road courses this year. He sits in seventh in the championship standings.

Canapino is putting himself in a position to run away with the Rookie of the Year award. He finished in 12th place in both races and currently sits in 12th in the standings. Clearly the lack of open-wheel experience hasn’t held him back.

It has only been two races, but Juncos Hollinger Racing have obviously been putting their resources in the right places. The talented driver lineup and strong car will likely dominate the IndyCar midfield and sneak into a few podium finishes.

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The organization gets another shot at establishing their place in the IndyCar pecking order this Sunday afternoon in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today if you haven’t already done so!