Note: This is part of a series of NTT INDYCAR SERIES team previews for the 2023 season.
Starting Lineup: Callum Ilott (No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet), Agustin Canapino (No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet).
2022 in Review: Ilott’s first full season in the series might not blare success, but he consistently proved he is a talent soon to rise through the ranks. The 24-year-old Englishman, who won races in the FIA’s Formula 2 series, frequently challenged for a spot in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying round on road courses and street circuits. Twice he missed advancing to the final round by a single position – in the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in the Honda Indy Toronto – and he ended the season with a front-row starting position for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. His best finishes were in the first IMS road race (eighth place) and in the Grand Prix of Portland (ninth). He led five laps in the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway and led a single lap in each of the season’s final two races (Portland and Laguna Seca). He finished 20th in the point standings, in part because he sat out the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, an event held the week following his Turn 2 crash in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
New for ’23: The Indianapolis-based team owned by Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger has literally doubled in size, adding a second car to the program. Canapino, an Argentine touring car champion, will be the team’s other driver, but he has so little open-wheel driving experience that he is as green as any INDYCAR SERIES rookie has ever been. Speaking of green, the team’s color scheme has a fresh new look, something that will catch the eye. The organization also is returning to INDY NXT by Firestone, fielding cars for drivers Reece Gold and Matteo Nannini.
Keep an Eye on This: Ilott might be one of the series’ most likely to make gains year over year. He was seventh and fourth, respectively, on the end-of-day time sheets at the recent open test at The Thermal Club, and he looks more comfortable and confident with each stint in the car. There’s a reason he was so highly regarded in the Formula One ladder system, a test and reserve driver for three different teams (Alfa Romeo, Haas F1 and Scuderia Ferrari).
Little-Known Fact: Canapino not only is new to the INDYCAR SERIES, he is living out of Argentina for the first time in his life, having moved to Indianapolis with his girlfriend in January. Four months ago, the only word he knew in English was “Hello,” but he has been taking three intensive language classes a week and conversed extremely well during the content-gathering days as part of the open test at The Thermal Club.