By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
Alfonso Celis Jr. is set for his Verizon IndyCar Series debut.
Juncos Racing announced Thursday that Celis, 21, will pilot their No. 32 Chevrolet in the June 24 Kohler Grand Prix at Road America. As a result, the Mexican driver will forego the rest of his scheduled Indy Lights season.
“Although this comes as a surprise for our Indy Lights team, this is another step forward with our IndyCar program,” Junos Racing owner Ricardo Juncos said. “Alfonso (Celis Jr.) has proved he is ready to make this move from the success he has previously had in Formula 1 and I look forward to working with him in the IndyCar Series.”
After skipping the season-opening weekend at St. Petersburg, Celis made his debut on the Mazda Road to Indy at Barber Motorsports Park, finishing seventh and eighth in a weekend doubleheader.
“I’m very excited to be able to make my Verizon IndyCar Series debut,” Celis said. “This is something that I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid and something that we have worked for many years to achieve. I’ve had a lot of experience in Europe with high downforce and high horsepower cars, both in my testing duties in Formula 1 and in my seasons at World Series V8 3.5, so I feel ready to take on this new challenge.
“The competition in IndyCar is very high and I know it will be hard work, but we will work with the Juncos team so that we can catch up as quickly as possible. I’m really looking forward to Road America and to the opportunities that this will open.”
Celis’ move further reduces the already small Indy Lights field. But Juncos remains committed to fielding at least two entries on the tour.
“We will continue to search for a replacement in the Indy Lights car, and maybe even a driver for our third car,” Juncos said. “We have had a lot of success in the Indy Lights series and I would like to continue that by running at least a two-car team.”