JUNCOS RACING'S KAISER CAPTURES THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT WATKINS GLEN
05 SEPTEMBER 2017
Watkins Glen, N.Y. – Kyle Kaiser claimed the 2017 Indy Lights Championship presented by Cooper Tires this past weekend in the Mazda Watkins Glen Indy Lights Grand Prix presented by Cooper Tires season finale. One lap around Watkins Glen International Raceway secured Kaiser’s championship win along with delivering Juncos Racing their second Indy Lights championship in three years. Juncos Racing also won the Pro Mazda Championship, making them the first team to win both series in the same year in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series history.
The 2017 Indy Lights season came to an end on the 3.37 mile, 11-Turn road course located in Watkins Glen. The weekend began with two practice sessions followed by qualifying. Kyle Kaiser (Los Gatos, California) qualified 10th and teammate Nicolas Dapero (Buenos Aires, Argentina) took the 11th starting position.
The final morning of the championship greet the field with wet conditions for Round 16. Kaiser driving the #18 Juncos Racing car only needed to complete one lap to insure his championship win. Multiple battles throughout the field and cars spinning off due to slick conditions continued throughout the 25 lap race. Kaiser spun midway through the race, recovered and would go on to post a seventh place finish. Dapero drove the #31 American Brokers Juncos Racing car to an eighth place finish to end a successful rookie season.
Kaiser’s year paid off with the consistency he established from the first weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida. Kaiser earned three poles and three wins, along with five podiums throughout the 16 rounds this year and would only finish outside of the Top-5 four times. The 2017 season marked Kaiser’s fourth year with Juncos Racing, the longest run one driver has had with the team.
By winning the Indy Lights Championship presented by Cooper Tires Kaiser received the Mazda Scholarship valued at $1,000,000 which will give him the funds needed to run three races in the Verizon IndyCar series, along with the Indianapolis 500 next year.
“This season has been so incredible,” said Kaiser. “I’m extremely thankful to the team for giving me this opportunity and developing me into a champion over the past four seasons. For Juncos to win both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights championship in the same year is an incredible feat, and it is very well deserved. It’s been great to celebrate and reflect over this accomplishment, but I know now it the time to get to work harder than I ever have so I can make an impression in the IndyCar Series. Thanks again to Mazda and Cooper Tires for making this scholarship program possible. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks to start planning for the upcoming season.”
Dapero, ended a successful rookie season in the Indy Lights series recording one Top-5 and nine Top-10’s.
“This weekend was another learning weekend for me,” said Dapero. “This was my first time at this track and we had a tough time trying to get the most out of the car for qualifying. After that we had rain for the race, which was my first time to run in rain in the Indy Lights car. I fought with the car the entire race and was able to move up to finish eighth. A lot of positive things to take from this season into next year. I want to thank all of Juncos Racing for all of their hard work.”
Team Owner Ricardo Juncos said “This year was just amazing. We did everything right from the mechanics and crew members, our engineer Ernie (Ernesto Gonella), and both of our drivers Kyle (Kaiser) and Nico (Dapero). When we jumped into the Indy Lights series with Kyle we knew it would be close to a three year development, because the 2015 season was too early for him and we planned it that way, to get him three solid years in the series. To win the championship with Kyle really shows what we are able to do within our Driver Development Program. Winning the Indy Lights championship says even more, because this is a very hard championship to win. It always comes down to three or four drivers in the final race. However we were able to come into this weekend only needing to start the race to win the championship because we showed great consistency throughout the season. Kyle has a great future ahead of him. I would like to thank Kyle for dedicating four years to our program and showing what we do best at Juncos Racing. I would also like to thank Kyle’s family for all of their support throughout this time.”
“Nico (Dapero) is on the same path as Kyle,” said Juncos. “He jumped into Indy Lights series with not much experience after only one season in the Pro Mazda series and previously only running in karting series. He was moved into the Indy Lights series early, but he was able to show great results and able to learn a lot this year. He made some great moves in difficult situations on track and even proved to be one of the fastest cars on track at times running in the Top-3 in speed. Nico has a great future ahead of him as well. I am looking forward to working with him again next year and to start winning some races, hopefully even the championship. I would like to thank Nico and his family for giving us the chance to be a part of his career and to continuing our success into the 2018 season with him.”
The 2017 season proved to be the most intense year for Juncos Racing as they entered into the ninth season in the Pro Mazda and third season in the Indy Lights series, along with putting together a new two car Verizon IndyCar program for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.
The team would prove from the start that they would continue their focus on both Mazda Road to Indy programs, by collecting multiple podiums and race wins in both series. Juncos Racing ended the year winning both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights championship, the first team to do so in the same season in the history of the Mazda Road To Indy ladder series.
“Our Driver Development Program is the staple and mission of Juncos Racing,” said Juncos. “We take these kids and give them the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in their racing careers. Our goal is to move these drivers up in a pace that will only bring them success. Kyle Kaiser is proof of this success by now being the Indy Lights Champion. Nico is on the same path as Kyle and I know he will have great success next season. I am looking forward to next year and l am confident we will be successful as a team through our hard work and dedication.”
About Juncos Racing: Juncos Racing is a championship-winning Mazda Road to Indy team currently running in Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
Juncos Racing was established by Ricardo Juncos in 1997 as a small formula car race program based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After times became financially tough, Juncos relocated to the United States in 2002 where he worked as a mechanic for a small karting team based in Florida. Juncos was then able to open the doors to his own shop and run in karting series throughout the United States.
In 2009, Juncos Racing entered in the former Star Mazda Championship (now the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires), where the team had great success in its maiden season, finishing second in the driver's championship and third in the team championship. The following year, the team captured its first championship in the series with Indiana native Conor Daly. Fast forward to 2015, where Juncos Racing had its most successful season capturing the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires driver's championship with current Verizon Indy Car Series driver Spencer Pigot and also claiming the Pro Mazda team championship.
In 2017, Juncos Racing announced they would enter the Verizon IndyCar series and compete in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500. The rookie team would go on to finish a respected 15th with Sebastian Saavedra and 18th with Spencer Pigot.
The mission of Juncos Racing is to develop young drivers from around the world into the next level of their racing careers through the Juncos Racing Driver Development Program. Through this program, the team not only works with drivers on track to improve their skills behind the wheel, but also gives them the tools needed to understand the engineering and mechanics of the race car. Drivers who have participated in the program and have gone on to compete in the next level include Peter Dempsey, Conor Daly, Connor De Phillippi, Chase Austin, Kyle Kaiser, Nicolas Dapero and Spencer Pigot.