Monday, November 27, 2023

IndyCar’s Junco Hollinger Racing Saga

As we do Business My Way, Yuhs Hear Callum!


Yep, another No Fenders story late to thee Party. But I didn’t want to give Y’all indigestion over Turkey Lurkey weekend, Hya!


First ‘n foremost, suppose I should remind myself that IndyCar, and Motor Racing in General is a Business First. Which I have a tendency to forget since it’s simply Entertainment for Mwah…


I’ve been a Fan of Juncos Hollinger Racing ever since it was simply Juncos Racing when Kyle Kiser, remember Him Y’all? Did the unthinkable and Bumped that Smarmy Spaniard Frederico Suave’, aka Fernando Alonso from the 2019 Indianapolis 500!

Not to mention having been impressed with Riccardo Juncos “Rags to Riches” success as an IndyCar team owner, overcoming the massive financial Hurdles to do so! Especially starting with nothing.


I’ll also admit that I only knew Callum Ilott’s name from perusing the FIA Formula 2 Championship roster, and really knew very little otherwise about Him until His IndyCar debut at the end of the 2021 IndyCar season. When Juncos Racing became Juncos Hollinger Racing (JHR) with it’s 2021 IndyCar reboot as a single car entity for the season’s final three West coast races.


I suppose it’s only natural to root for Underdogs, since obviously we expect Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and Gasp, McLaren to regularly be in the Winner’s circle. And thus I enjoy rootin’ for drivers and teams that punch above their perceived weight instead.


Not sure what it was, but I saw great promise in Callam Ilott during this West Coast swing, even if He was still totally unknown to Mwah. As the plucky Englishman quickly rose to be my Numero Tres IndyCar Driver during JHR’s first full season in 2022, when still a single car entity.


The team impressed me even more at the beginning of this season with the totally unknown Argentinian Augustin Canapino as it’s second driver, who’d never driven an Open wheel Racing single seater before! Not to mention needing to learn English. Which I’ve said before is my Rookie Of the Year (ROY) for Mwah. Even if the Kiwi’ I’m Hip upon Marcus Armstrong won the IndyCar Rookie Of the Year Championship instead.


But where it All went wrong for Mwah with JHR obviously began this past April when Callum Ilott received Death Threats for tangling with rookie teammate Canapino at Long Beach.


And if you want the unvarnished version of Marshall Pruett’s excellent, if long winded recap of what ultimately led to Ilott’s Firing from JHR. Then Y’all should listen to the start of His October 31st MP1452: The Week in IndyCar Podcast!


As Marshall notes how not only did JHR do nothing to defend Ilott over Canapino’s Fans Attacking Him! But then totally let Callum down during the same month’s Indianapolis Open tes, with a wickedly ill handling racecar.


The team told Ilott there was nothing wrong with His chassis during the opening few days of Indy 500 practice, even though Ilott remained glued to the bottom of the Time Sheets, before a “Come to Jesus” meeting was held and the team finally relented and prepared a new racecar for Callum.


Long story short, Ilott not only locked Himself into the field on Saturday, but finished a remarkable 12th during the race.


And then as we All know, there was a second ugly social media event following the Laguna Seca season finale. Where once again, some faction of Canapino Fans attacked Ilott, for which I’ve previously scribbled ‘bout here upon No Fenders.


Sadly mentioning how I feared Ilott was being Hung Out to Dry! With JHR holding firm to it’s December option to retain the Englishman for the 2024 IndyCar season, which we All know didn’t happen.


As what rubs me wrong about this whole outcome is how Juncos naturally sided with fellow Argentine driver Canapino, with both making multiple harsh comments towards Ilott, in what quickly became a toxic work environment!


Whilst the funniest part of JHR hiring Romain Grosjean, who basically had a total implosion this season at Andretti Auto, Err Global. Is the fact they just hired a driver who’s filed for Arbitration against His Team Owner to be their newest driver!


As I fear that Ilott’s been summarily Hosed by JHR and Riccardo Juncos! And I’ll miss Him giving chase in midfield or inferior machinery next season. Since the 25yr old Englishman should totally be on the IndyCar Frid next year!


As you could say this is a business decision, with JHR’s new “Strategic” partnership with Arrow McLaren. Since obviously Grosjean and the No. 77 will be sporting All of Arrow McLaren’s overflow sponsors, with JHR needing the cash!


As I’d love to see Ilott get Andretti’s fourth vacated IndyCar seat, a satellite Foyt ride or one of Coyne’s two drives next year. But All of those require a Mega Budget, which Ilott doesn’t have.


As Ilott’s best moves would to run Sports Cars next year for either Penske or United Autosport, and then either replace Will Power or fill Arrow McLaren’s intended fourth IndyCar seat in the future…


 While I’ll refrain from pointing out All of the obvious faults of Grosjean. Who I’ve considered to be a Hot Head since His Haas Formula 1 days…


Since All I want to know, is what is the Over/Under on Grosjean and JHR having a meltdown in 2024? And how many races will it be before Grosjean and Canapino Clash with each other on-track?