The blue and white flag of Argentina will be represented in numerous ways during the upcoming NTT IndyCar Series season with the signing of 15-time Argentinian touring car champion Agustin Canapino to drive the No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevy team co-owned by countryman Ricardo Juncos and American businessman Brad Hollinger.
The 32-year-old Canapino, who recently tested for JHR and performed demonstrations runs during the team’s traveling showcase across Argentinian road courses, will carry sponsorship from the INPROTUR (National Bureau of Tourism Promotion) agency which will feature a “Visit Argentina” campaign across the 17-race IndyCar calendar.
Positioned next to Callum Ilott’s No. 77 JHR Chevy, the combination of Juncos, Canapino and all of the national support being committed brings to IndyCar its first “Team Argentina”-themed entry, and its first full-time Argentinian driver since Juan-Manuel Fangio II drove for All American Racers in 1997.
“For me, this is a great opportunity so I am very grateful to Ricardo Juncos, Brad Hollinger and all the sponsors that are making this possible. I’m going to do my best in every moment to get the best possible results,” Canapino said.
“I’m going in with my mind set on learning and going step-by-step, but I’m also focused on evolving throughout the season. The goal is to finish the races, get to know the car, and the circuits — especially the ovals. IndyCar is the most competitive and difficult category in the world, and the cars are the most demanding and require the maximum effort and preparation on my part. I am happy to take on this challenge and I’m motivated to perform well and repay those that have trusted me with this opportunity.”
For Juncos, who sold most of his belongings to finance a move to America and got his start in the country as a go kart mechanic, the dream of owning and running and IndyCar team has already been achieved, and while it has taken a little while longer to make happen, his other dream of bringing a top Argentinian driver into the series with home-spun backing has finally happened.
“To be able to communicate this news today is incredible for me and my team,” Juncos said. “It has been more than 20 years since I came to North American motorsports. It has been a long road of uninterrupted hard work in which I have been fulfilling different dreams, and to see this particular one becoming a reality is truly incredible.
“After a complete analysis of each of the driver options we had to drive our No. 78 car, we have made the decision that Agustin Canapino is the right choice. Both Brad and I have full confidence in his ability. With a very successful racing career in Argentina behind him, he exceeded all expectations when he trained at Sebring and he’s confirmed that talent with what we’ve seen in his driving since.”
Pride is the driving force behind the Visit Argentina IndyCar program, according to INPROTUR executive director Ricardo Sosa.
“The presence of an Argentine driver again in IndyCar represents a historical fact for the Argentine Republic,” he said. “The work being done by the team led by another Argentinean in Ricardo Juncos should also be highlighted. The arrival of a car in this category to showcase our country and to be the main collaborators and make it possible for Argentina to continue growing with its international positioning, this time in the field of sports tourism, represents a fantastic opportunity.
“It is a historic moment for the country, a big step forward in motorsports and we should all feel proud to be part of this unique story while Argentina continues to show the incredible pool of drivers it has. Argentina is once again present in the IndyCar series, and especially in the U.S. market which is our main source of tourists from non-bordering countries. We are convinced this is the way forward, working together and positioning the sport with Argentina.”