Speed doesn’t lie at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The most surprising example of this truism is found with the smallest, least-funded team trying to make the field of 33 as Juncos Racing, in its plain white and sponsorless No. 32 Chevy, rocketed to 11th overall on the speed chart on Wednesday with Kyle Kaiser behind the wheel.
Even better, the 2017 Indy Lights champion’s impressive lap of 227.079 mph was backed up with the fifth-fastest no-tow lap, which speaks to the car’s potential in single-car qualifying. Playing among the bigger teams where they aren’t expected to perform, an early candidate for the 2019 Indy 500’s David is emerging among the Goliaths.
“I’ve always been a fan of the underdog,” Kaiser told RACER after shadowing Ed Carpenter’s fastest speed. “And as much as people might look at us as the underdog, we’re showing we can run towards the front, regardless of whether we have sponsors at this stage or not. If we can out-perform other teams that have more resources than we do, we’ll have something to show what we’re capable of when it matters.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the team for having a really good car to put beneath me. I’m really proud of the team and I’m trying to do my part to get some sponsors to come onboard.”
One of the secrets to Kaiser’s formidable pace as an Indy rookie in 2018 and again so far this year is the presence of Juncos race engineer Tom Brown. The savvy veteran, whose chassis setup skills on big ovals are well known, has made a strong connection with his 23-year-old pilot.
Pulling double duty in IndyCar and IMSA’s DPi class with Juncos has served to accelerate the working relationship between Brown and Kaiser, and if the early pace this week is an indicator of anything, it’s how a strong driver and engineer combo, no matter the size of the team, can make waves at the Speedway.
“The great thing we have here, since we don’t have a lot of resources, is we maximize what we’ve got,” Brown said. “Kyle’s the engine here. He’s always the constant, bringing the energy. And we do the IMSA DPi program together with Kyle, so we know each other well and the chemistry here is amazing. There’s no egos. No superstars. We just put our heads down and asses up and work. But we need to keep it tidy for the rest of the week and get through qualifying. Our hearts are in our mouths every lap we’re out there because we can’t afford to crash. Kyle’s doing a superb job.”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos also indicated the No. 32 Chevy might look a bit different in the coming days as numerous companies have called to inquire about sponsoring the car for the rest of the event.