Hard work has paid off again for Ricardo Juncos’ NTT IndyCar Series team. Juncos Racing announced Sunday that it has entered driver Kyle Kaiser in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Kaiser will drive the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet when Indy 500 practice qualifying begins May 14. The 23-year-old Californian becomes the 35th driver confirmed in an entry for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Kaiser (at left in above photo) has driven for Juncos Racing since 2014 in the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder. He won the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship in 2017 before making his NTT IndyCar Series debut in four races last season. In his lone NTT IndyCar Series race this year, Kaiser finished 18th for Juncos in the INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of The Americas.
He also races for Juncos in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. He and co-driver Will Owen finished ninth overall and in the Daytona Prototype class Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, driving the No. 50 Juncos Cadillac DPi.
Putting the deal together for Kaiser to return to the Indy 500, where he finished 29th in 2018, was a painstakingly long process for driver and team owner.
“It’s been a very busy last year, really,” Kaiser said. “I’ve been working hard to pull sponsors together and make something happen, the team’s been working really hard to find sponsors and make something happen and it was looking pretty positive.
“We had a lot of irons in the fire and a lot of things working. It was starting to look like things wouldn’t pan out a couple of days ago, but the team pulled something together and we’ll be able to attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.”
Team owner Juncos (at right in above photo) was happy to finally have the Indy 500 program in place 2019. Kaiser’s Indy Lights scholarship prize for winning the 2017 title helped fund the ride last year, but that wasn’t available this time around.
“We’ve (had) to work a lot to make it happen,” Juncos said. “Obviously, we’re very happy to be back together; I think we deserve a second chance. Last year, we were super, super fast and I was very happy with the whole team with him. Unfortunately, we needed some luck and we didn’t have it last year, but (I’m) looking forward to this one.”
With 36 drivers expected to contend for the 33 spots in the Indy 500 starting field, three won’t qualify for the race. Kaiser said he doesn’t feel added pressure.
“There’s no more pressure. In fact, I feel a little less pressure,” he said. “I was more pressured worried about not being able to (have a chance to) be in the race. I think we have a really good car and really good setup.
“I think we’ve done as much, if not more, than we did to prepare for the race last year. The car’s looking awesome, it’s as good as it’s been, for sure, in terms of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think we’ll have a really good entry and I think we’ll go out and have to be methodical.”
Kaiser also believes that driving the Juncos sports-car entry will make him sharper when Indy 500 practice begins.
“You can train really hard all you want, but driving a car is the best conditioning you can do for driving a race car,” said Kaiser. “So I think it’s been very beneficial and I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to race here.”
Throughout the process as Juncos and Kaiser worked to finalize the Indy 500 program, the team’s crew has been meticulously preparing and massaging the car he will drive. It has the team holding high aspirations.
“It’s going to be difficult and we’ve been working on the race car since many months before," team owner Juncos said. "The car we’re going to be using isn’t the one we used at Circuit of The Americas, so we feel very confident. But, it’s not easy for anybody so it’s going to be for sure a stressful weekend (for qualifying).”
Visit IMS.com for information and tickets to the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26 or the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course on May 11.