It has been an incredibly busy offseason for Juncos Racing.
One of the most successful teams in the history of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, Juncos Racing has also been methodically building its program the past two seasons with a part-time campaign in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Ideally, team owner Ricardo Juncos envisions a two-car IndyCar Series effort in 2019, as evidenced by the team’s recent Twitter post.
“The second car is going to be ready probably this week,” Juncos said. “We'll be ready to operate so that way we have two cars ready if the situation is needed. At the moment, we want to be able to open it up to two cars. That's why we are doing this.”
Juncos Racing made its Verizon IndyCar Series debut with two entries in the 2017 Indianapolis 500. A single team car competed in 12 of the 17 races in 2018, shared by three drivers: Rene Binder (six races), Alfonso Celis Jr. (two) and Kyle Kaiser (four). Juncos’ goal is to have at least one full-time entry next season. However, should the team be limited a part-time campaign for a third consecutive year, the focus will turn to having both cars share select race weekends to help overall development.
“I think based on what we did (in the Indianapolis 500) with Kaiser, running only one car and qualifying 17th this year was really good,” Juncos said. “That's obviously given (us) a good opportunity now going forward with a lot of interest from drivers to race with us.
“I want to make sure we do, if anything, the (Indy) 500 with both cars. That's the idea and that's why we went ahead and (prepared the second car), so we're ready to operate two cars at once and offer that to drivers.”
While that workload is enough to keep everyone active at the shop, there is also attention needed to maintain the championship form in the top two steps of MRTI – Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires and Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires. Juncos drivers won both titles in 2017 and Rinus VeeKay was the 2018 Pro Mazda champion.
Additionally, Juncos is braced for another massive undertaking as his team readies for expansion into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the 2019 season. The operation will field a Cadillac DPi-V.R. that will compete in the Prototype category.
"When we finish (preparing) the second Indy car, the INDYCAR team is ready to go for whenever the opportunity shows up, either from sponsors or driver's funds, and we will start testing,” Juncos said. “But the plan is to do something in January or February, so that's pretty much what's going on.
“And then obviously, the whole focus is on a DPi, which we are about to receive the car, so we've been working on that. Pretty much everything is done except that when we get the car, we need to have the car ready by the beginning of December. The intention is to test in December two times and get ready for the Roar test (prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race) in January. I'm going to use all my INDYCAR guys and everybody kind of on the DPi to start the program properly and then new people will show up to the team after that."
No drivers for any of Juncos’ 2019 programs has been confirmed, but Juncos plans to have at least his IMSA lineup set “around December.”
Juncos Racing is joining the ranks of Chip Ganassi Racing, Meyer Shank Racing and Team Penske as organizations competing in INDYCAR and sports car racing. For Juncos, the expanded role is a benefit in offering opportunities for drivers in both disciplines. It could open up packages on the sponsorship front as well.
“I think it will give us more options on that (the drivers), but also when you talk to sponsors about INDYCAR, now we can also add the IMSA platform,” Juncos said. “As a marketing tool, I think is good to have an extra option to offer and in the high level that is required to be running a DPi in IMSA, which is good, too.
“The challenge for us is that Daytona is coming soon and that's the biggest race, like the Indy 500 for IMSA, and it's the first race. So we are facing that as a new team with a short time to do everything – finding the drivers, build the whole team in short time and be ready by Daytona.
“But we will do it like we did (in 2017) with the (Indy) 500, and that will be our starting point. We'll see how the game goes after that.”