Alfonso Celis Jr. is returning to drive a second Verizon IndyCar Series race for Juncos Racing.
The Indianapolis-based team announced today that Celis, the 21-year-old Mexican who made his series debut in June at the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America, will drive the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet again in the Grand Prix of Portland race weekend Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
The event at Portland International Raceway’s permanent road course is the penultimate race on the 2018 schedule and marks the return of Indy cars to the Pacific Northwest market for the first time in 11 years.
“I’m very happy to be able to make my dream come true again and return to my second Indy car race,” said Celis, who finished 20th at Road America on June 24. “This is a great way to continue building a project that I think has a lot of future and that I’m extremely excited about.”
Celis spent two years as a test driver for Sahara Force India in Formula One. Last year, he finished third in the Formula V8 3.5 Series championship, collecting one race win. He drove for Juncos Racing in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires – the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder – at Barber Motorsports Park in April before moving up with the team to the Verizon IndyCar Series at Road America.
“I’m very motivated about racing in Portland,” Celis added. “We have worked together on developing the setup of the car both on track and in the (racing simulator), and I feel very proud to be able to do all this work together with Juncos Racing. Before my debut in Road America, I had been out of the car for a while and it was also my first time in an Indy car, so this second time around should be even better. I’ve been training as hard as I can and I feel ready for this challenge.”
Juncos Racing, a championship-winning organization in the Mazda Road to Indy, is in its second season as a part-time Verizon IndyCar Series team. Celis has shared the No. 32 Chevy with fellow rookies Rene Binder and Kyle Kaiser in a total of 11 Verizon IndyCar Series races to date, with a best result of 16th place (Kaiser at Long Beach, Binder at Barber).
Team principal Ricardo Juncos said he was “thrilled” to have Celis return to the team for Portland.
“We had a great weekend overall with him back at Road America,” Juncos said. “His knowledge and feedback of the car provided our team with very valuable and important data. I am confident he will put on another great weekend and we look forward to getting him back in the car later this month.”
Celis is just as happy to have the shot at driving on Portland’s 1.968-mile permanent road course.
“I’m very grateful with Juncos Racing for giving me this opportunity and putting their trust in me, and for all the people that have helped make this happen,” he said. “The Verizon IndyCar Series has the best racing and the best drivers in the world, and this is where I want to be.
“There has been huge following of the series in Mexico over the years and I want to do everything I can to help revive that love for the sport in my country.”
Ticket information on the Grand Prix of Portland is available at portlandgp.com. The race airs live at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 2 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.