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IndyCar Thermal

Purdue partnership paying IndyCar dividends for Juncos Hollinger Racing

Juncos Hollinger Racing is getting closer to the goals it set out since becoming a full-time IndyCar Series squad in 2022, aided by a unique partnership with Purdue University.

Agustín Canapino, Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet

While the organization remains the youngest team on North America’s premier open-wheel championship, the ascension further up the grid is made even more impressive considering the lack of any technical alliance with the series' powerhouse outfits.

Some may immediately point to JHR’s affiliation with Arrow McLaren since last October, but that is strictly a strategic pact focused on the commercial and marketing efforts.

Although other organizations within IndyCar share technical data, such as Meyer Shank Racing and Andretti Global, along with AJ Foyt Racing and Team Penske, Juncos is quick to point out this union isn’t anything similar.

“It's not a technical alliance,” Juncos told Motorsport.com. “That actually is not happening and will probably never happen.”

The team started the year with Romain Grosjean, who replaced Callum Ilott over the offseason, making the Fast Six to qualify fifth for the season-opening round at St. Petersburg last month. That effort was backed up in the race when Grosjean was running in the top 10 until a mechanical issue led to an early retirement after 82 of 100 laps.

Agustin Canapino carried the JHR at the recent non-points exhibition at The Thermal Club, advancing out of his heat and finishing 10th in the final.

“We improved the team a lot compared to last year,” Juncos said, recalling Ilott’s two top fives in 2023.

“This is our third year of partnership with Purdue University. We have in the team probably, seven to eight interns; three of those guys already are on the IndyCar side full time. The partnership is working really good with Purdue."

Ricardo Juncos -

Ricardo Juncos -

Photo by: Penske Entertainment

This partnership was formed in September of 2021, roughly six months prior to stepping up as a full-time program. A variety of internships for Purdue students, which extends through the College of Engineering, Purdue Polytechnic Institute and Krannert School of Management, has proven to be among one of the key components to JHR’s continued improvements.

It’s also fair to recognize that beyond the interns, chemistry and general experience among the regular team members has also played a vital role.

“We were able to create some things on the development side in the university that now we are using, so we use our designs and the students and some of the cooperation from Purdue to create some devices that are actually working good for us,” Juncos said.

“As well as hiring good engineers ... the team finished last year on a good note. Remember, we were close to finish with both cars on the top five (at Laguna Seca), top three maybe. And even in 2022 by almost being on board with Callum Ilott in Laguna (after qualifying second).

“The team is always showing these flashes of brilliance on the technical side before even the McLaren alliance. This is clearly our development, our work.

“At the moment, the whole team is very proud of what we show on speed at St. Pete, on the testing and (at Thermal). And this is all because our guys and the alliance that we have with Purdue University, which has been great. “

The overall concept of grooming youth and inexperience is a philosophy that Juncos has executed even during his time as a standout junior team in IndyCar’s developmental series ranks.

And it’s something that has become increasingly important to do now more than ever, especially considering the grid continues to grow despite a lack of experienced personnel wandering around the paddock.

“It has always been that way,” Juncos said.

“It's been in the past some struggles with young people that coming and then just coming for one year or two and they ended up going to some of the top teams; in the past when we were not even full time.

“That was something that we had to try to fix because it's good for us to, I don't mind investing in the youngest, but needs to be a long-term relationship so we can develop the way we want.

“We work in many areas different than any other IndyCar team in many ways, which is not good or bad, but it's just different. Take some time to develop that, right? The beauty is that now we have these interns that we are bringing onboard from Purdue.”

Strides have been made with the partnership, but it still remains quality over quantity as Juncos incentivizes the opportunities based on being “a good student” and making extra effort to go above and beyond.

That concept hasn’t lessened the demand, either, as JHR is currently bracing for an interview process by going through a list of 15 students eager for a chance.

“The good stuff is that we can teach them the way we want and explain from the basics how this works instead of issues keep having people from other teams - which we do have some, obviously some people that came from other teams - but we were like way under with people last year,” Juncos said.

“Now, we are actually in a window that we want to be, we are comfortable with this now. Going forward will be just youngest to come in. That's why we also said the Indy NXT team to be the springboard right to the IndyCar, which is not working fully yet with only one driver, but we are trying to put a team together as well on the proper side to not only develop drivers, but mechanics, engineers. I think that would be the way.

"I vision that because we all need it. We all need new people. We all need to keep teaching the youngest because that's what is needed, right?

“We are lacking enough mechanics and engineers in motorsport, in general. So, I think the only way to do that is the way we are doing it.”

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