The most impressive performance on Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway came from the mighty little Juncos Racing team.
The single-car outfit assembled to run 2017 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kaiser in his first Indy 500 was 21st fastest in the No. 32 Chevy. For the sake of comparison, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports phenom Robert Wickens — part of a four-car powerhouse — was 20th, and Andretti Autosport’s Stefan Wilson — part of the six-car superteam that’s won the last two Indy 500s — was 22nd.
The likes of Graham Rahal (30th) and James Hinchcliffe — who was bumped from the field — were also behind Kaiser, whose entry was often mentioned as one that might be in jeopardy of making the race before practice got under way. Led by the spirited Ricardo Juncos and engineered by oval meister Tom Brown, the Californian made the Speedway-based team and the entire Mazda Road To Indy ladder system proud with his impressive performance.
“Honestly, that exceeded my expectations and I think the team’s expectations,” Kaiser told RACER. “We hit a slump in the middle of the day on Friday, and really, we didn’t know what to do. We threw something at it and found a mile an hour, so I told them to just leave it for today and the car was fast. I couldn’t believe when we saw 226mph on the first lap on my dash.
“I didn’t touch my tools, let the car do what it wanted to do, and the car changed a ton over the four laps so I know we could have gone faster but I just wanted to get in safely and we did.”
Kaiser heaped praise on his Argentinian team owner, Scottish engineer, and the rest of the multi-national effort supporting the No. 32 Chevy.
“It hasn’t been smooth sailing all week; we’ve gone down wrong paths, spent nights wondering what the heck do we do to make it faster, and everybody came together at the right time to find what we needed,” he said. “Tom and Ricardo and all the guys have been amazing. I’m so proud of our team.”