By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
Defending Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion Kyle Kaiser was expecting more from the track that gave him his first Indy Lights win in 2016.
His first Verizon IndyCar Series race was one spent learning as much as he could, but unfortunately wall contact ended his night early Saturday night’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway.
Kaiser qualified 14th in his No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet and stayed midfield during his race, running as high as 11th before his first pit stop on Lap 43.
Track position became their undoing around midway point of the race, leaving Kaiser a lap down. He continued to learn as he completed laps, eventually running the 12th fastest lap of the race.
Kaiser tagged the wall in Turn 3 on Lap 173 of 250, and the resulting damage meant that his race was over in 21st place.
“Obviously, I’m a little disappointed with the way things ended, but I am extremely happy with how the car was and effort from the team,” said Kaiser. “I think we had a really nice race car. We had strong pace and were running times with the guys who were running up front. The Chevy engine was great the whole time.
“We had some good runs and got some good passes in and I learned a ton. I’m a rookie with a rookie team, so we are out here on a super steep learning curve. Being able to go out there and run that many laps and learn as much as I did was very valuable. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car at Long Beach and building on what we learned from this weekend.”
This was Juncos Racing’s third race as an IndyCar team after last year’s Indianapolis 500 and the season-opening race in St. Petersburg. Kaiser will be behind the wheel of the No. 32 Chevrolet again next weekend as the series heads to Long Beach.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will start at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday April 15th. Kaiser will be looking to avenge his last performance at the historic street circuit after he collided with Jack Harvey in Turn 1 of the Indy Lights race in 2015.