By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
Fresh off of a 2017 Indy Lights championship run, Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing are taking their partnership to the Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS).
Juncos announced Thursday that Kaiser, 21, will compete in four VICS races for the organization in 2018, including the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 and two additional events to be determined at a later date.
“I’m very excited to be moving up to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Juncos Racing,” Kaiser said in a release. “Juncos has been a huge part of my recent success in the Mazda Road to Indy.
“I have the utmost confidence in Ricardo’s (Juncos) program moving forward and I’m very thankful to everyone involved for making this possible, especially Mazda, Cooper Tires and Dan Andersen for their investment into the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system which will allow me to take the final step towards a career in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Kaiser will arrive in the VICS paddock courtesy of the $1 million scholarship awarded to the Californian for claiming the previous year’s Indy Lights championship. Kaiser accomplished the feat in his third year in the series, tallying three victories and eight podiums in 16 races to best Santiago Urrutia and Colton Herta. Kaiser also competed for the team in Pro Mazda back in 2014.
For owner Ricardo Juncos, Thursday’s announcement marks the next step in his team’s plan to move up the INDYCAR ladder. After many years spent advancing through the Mazda Road to Indy, Juncos Racing made their VICS debut in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 – tallying finishes of 15th and 18th, respectively, with Sevastian Saavedra and Spencer Pigot.
“This is what our mission is at Juncos Racing, to take drivers to the next level in their career,” Juncos said. “We began with Kyle in the Pro Mazda series back in 2014 and then took him to the Indy Lights series, where he had three years to grow into the driver he is today. Each season, Kyle showed tremendous progress on and off track. That hard work and dedication paid off this past season with Kyle winning the Indy Lights championship.
“Now that Kyle has decided to return to the team for his first run in the Verizon IndyCar Series shows his confidence in our organization. Kyle and his family have been a part of the Juncos Racing family for a long time and I am thrilled to be a part of this time in his career and look forward to helping him be a successful driver next year in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
While not a full-season commitment, INDYCAR president of competition and operations Jay Frye voiced optimism about Juncos Racing’s promise, and hopes for the team’s continued growth.
“INDYCAR is happy to see Kyle and Juncos Racing take this step together since they have been an integral part of the Mazda Road to Indy system for four years,” Frye said. “We welcomed Juncos Racing to the Verizon IndyCar Series at this year’s Indianapolis 500, believing it would lead to a deeper involvement. Today’s announcement shows this to be the case and we look forward to their participation in the four races in 2018, with hopefully many more to come.”
Any additional plans for Kaiser or Juncos will be revealed at a later date.