It’s an anniversary of sorts for Juncos Hollinger Racing as the rebooted team owned by Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger return to Portland, where the JHR IndyCar team made its debut in 2021.
As Juncos Racing, the team joined the NTT IndyCar Series in 2017 and shuttered the effort after 2019 Indy 500. Introduced to Hollinger, a well-known healthcare executive and ardent racing fan, the Argentinian and the American joined forces to bring the renamed team back to IndyCar for a three-race stint last year on the West Coast.
Armed with the coveted Briton Callum Ilott as the driver of the No. 77 Chevy, there were glimpses of promise shown at Portland, Laguna Seca and Long Beach. But it took a big swing during the offseason where JHR acquired the IndyCar assets and many of the better crew members from the former Carlin Racing outfit to give a proper representation of its capabilities.
“It’s better than we saw in terms of the performances from when we came back at Portland,” Juncos told RACER. “That’s for sure. It’s a feeling of being a long time since we were there, because the team has changed so much since Brad and I put the team together with Callum to drive for us. Many things have changed for everyone.
“I never expected to be performing in the Fast 12 earlier in this year at Barber; I was thinking more it would happen in second half of the year, but obviously the results didn’t show up because we made mistakes. We’re the only one-car team and with a rookie, right? So that’s where we’ve taken off and then there have been some very good times. I’m happy with everybody on the team and we’ll keep building.”
Juncos and Hollinger, a former co-owner of the Williams Formula 1 team, have formed a strong partnership where future growth and expansion beyond a single entry seems inevitable.
“I think Brad is happy as well and we are clicking very good with each other,” Juncos added. “That symmetry between us is fantastic and that’s obviously just translated to being good for us to improve the team.”
From Ilott’s perspective, the JHR of a year ago is unrecognizable to the outfit that’s made five appearances inside the Fast 12 and produced a pair of seventh-place finishes as the smallest team in IndyCar.
“We’re very different now in personnel and obviously, we had a rougher start to things last year than we wanted, but I think from where we are now with the car — on the mechanical side, the engineering side, with how the whole alliance with Carlin benefited us — we’re making some big steps forward,” Ilott said. “We’ve tried to develop on that and I think especially across the first five races, we made some big steps to try and improve on the road and street courses, which I think we’ve often done.
“Coming here to Portland, one year (later), I can’t tell you how much more organized and relaxed everything is. It was such a rush last year to get everything ready and done. We went into qualifying last year, my first in IndyCar, and I had no shift lights. It was stuff like that. But I’m very happy with where we’ve come.
“Maybe the results have not been a massive step up, but we’ve had flashes and again, I‘m reminded that this team is now completing its first year together. We’ve been ahead of a lot of really strong old teams that have had a whole host of knowledge. So for that, we should be proud, but there’s more ground to cover.”