The breakout team of the early NTT IndyCar Season is also the smallest and newest in the paddock as Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger have rewritten all expectations for the Juncos Hollinger Racing program.
Sophomore driver Callum Ilott has opened the year with a pair of top 10s, earning fifth at St. Petersburg and ninth Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway—his best oval result to date. If Ilott’s form with holding seventh in the Drivers’ standings isn’t enough of a statement about JHR’s year-to-year improvement, his rookie teammate Agustin Canapino, a total newcomer to open-wheel racing and oval racing, sits 12th in the championship — one point behind Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta and four points behind defending series champion Will Power from Team Penske—after finishing 12th at St. Pete and 12th again on the harrowing 1.5-mile Texas track.
“I’m so proud of the team,” Juncos told RACER. “We know we don’t have the speed yet in qualifying like the mega teams because we couldn’t do any development in the wind tunnel and other things that are part of our limitations, but we did our best and I think we have a car that in the race conditions is very good. And we obviously have very good drivers.
“We still have many new team members so we’re trying to get better very quickly with pit stops, but everyone has done a phenomenal job. Callum we know already how he is extremely good; he finished strong last year and is starting very strong this year. And Agustin, he is showing all the potential.”
Canapino is the embodiment of a passion project for Juncos. A touring car legend in their shared home of Argentina, Juncos had a feeling Canapino would adapt to open-wheel racing far faster than anyone predicted, and so far, his faith is being rewarded.
“It’s just hard to believe it’s going this well already, but I put all my coins into him — all my money—and it was kind of a crazy move to bring him over here, but he’s actually showing everybody what he can do,” Juncos continued.
“He’s insane. He was fighting for position with (four-time Indy 500 winner) Helio (Castroneves). He was passing a lot of experienced drivers like Will Power. So for him, I don’t think he’s realized how good he’s doing. But people don’t know him here. Everybody knows him in Argentina, but not here. We gave him an opportunity and took it and now he’s doing an excellent job, so I’m really happy. He obviously has a lot more he can learn and improve, but my decision to bring him here was right.”