TEAM UPDATE 05 \\ 20
JHR overcome tense qualifying finale to secure coveted INDY 500 grid slots
Mission accomplished. Juncos Hollinger Racing has secured its place on the grid for next Sunday’s iconic INDY 500 (May 28) after a tense qualifying session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Rookie Agustín Canapino will start from P27 while team-mate Callum Ilott will be just behind in P28.
With only 33 slots available on the grid and the need to avoid elimination via tomorrow’s four-way ‘bump day’ battle, the team took the brave decision to replace the chassis on Callum’s car last night. It was a bold move but one the team felt it had to make to improve the mechanical performance of the #77 Dallara-Chevrolet.
Working through the night, the JHR engineers and mechanics delivered on their commitment to the INDY 500 cause and delivered Callum’s car back to the ‘Brickyard’ in time for the Briton to get 14 valuable laps under his belt during this morning’s practice session.
Qualifying started in cool and blustery conditions, but as blue skies appeared over the racing capital of the world, track speeds increased nicely.
Callum was drawn as the 23rd driver to run their four-lap qualifying attempt and the Briton duly returned an average speed of 227.72mph.
Agustín later turned heads with his spectacular special edition Argentina livery as the 33rd driver to tackle the 2.5-mile oval. The Argentinian rookie gave no indication of this being his first INDY 500 experience, recording an impressive average speed of 231.32mph.
After choosing to complete an additional four-lap run to try and improve his qualification chances, Callum hooked things up and improved to an average of 231.18mph across the 10-mile distance.
Agustín also attempted to move further up the rankings, but an ambitious dive into turn one resulted in contact with the outside wall and his chance had gone.
With both cars locked in and on the grid for the 107th running of the INDY 500 next week, the team now has two more practice sessions – on Monday and Friday – to fine-tune its race set-up and prepare for the biggest race on the NTT INDYCAR Series calendar.
\\ CALLUM ILOTT
“It feels great to have made the race, as it was looking a bit difficult – especially a week ago. Coming here is not easy, and we’ve been through some wars. We changed the chassis last night and had a big unknown going into today. But we pulled it off.
“There’s a bit more to achieve, to get the car into a good window, but I’m super happy to be on the grid. It’s been a lot of hard work and what everyone behind the scenes has been working so hard to achieve, so a big thanks to the entire Juncos Hollinger Racing team and Chevrolet.”
P27 \\ AGUSTIN
“Qualifying has finished for the first day and I’m very proud for my team and very happy that I’m going to be racing in the INDY 500 for the first time in my life. Now it’s time to focus on the race and I’ll do my best to finish in the strongest possible position.”
TP \\ RICARDO
“I’m very happy to have both cars in the INDY 500. I cannot find the words; anybody can imagine what this means for us.
“We had a difficult situation with Callum yesterday. We decided to change the chassis, which was a late call, but I felt that we had to do it. I want to thank all the mechanics and engineers because it was an outstanding job from them and a lot of effort.
“Today, Agustín did everything we asked of him and I’m very pleased he’s made it onto the grid with his magnificent Argentina livery. We have two really talented drivers. We thought we’d have the car to be top 20 or more, but today the set up wasn’t nailed.
“To be part of the INDY 500 once again though, with two cars, is a dream come true for myself and Brad [Hollinger] as team owners. It’s a big step forward for us. Now, we need to keep working for the rest of the week to have a good race car, because I think we have a chance to have a decent race.
“Finally, I want to thank every team member, both drivers, all of our team sponsors, and all of our family members for their great support.”