JHR strike the right note with bold strategy decisions in Music City
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEEAugust 6, 2023
Juncos Hollinger Racing’s brave strategy choices helped the team put in a solid performance at today’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, the 13th round of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Callum Ilott made up six positions on the Nashville street course to earn P12 at the checkered flag, while team-mate Agustín Canapino also showed well before a late collision dropped him down to P20.
The combination of a narrow and bumpy circuit and sweltering temperatures culminated in a gruelling physical challenge for the JHR drivers. In an effort to increase air circulation in the drivers’ cockpit, an additional cooling duct was fitted to the cars before the 80-lap showdown began.
Callum lined up on the grid in P18, while rookie Agustín was keen to repeat his good form of previous street courses as he started from P23.
Both men began the 168-mile race with Firestone’s soft green sidewall tires on their Dallara-Chevrolet cars. However, they switched to the harder primary tires early when a tricky start forced the pair to rethink their strategy. Callum quickly benefited from this quick thinking, as the Briton executed five neat overtakes in the following 10 laps.
Heavy rain during practice meant the team had reduced dry weather data at its disposal in Nashville, but that didn’t stop Agustín from testing the limits of his #78 car and showing strong pace on an unfamiliar course.
Both he and Callum looked assured in the middle of the field as the race progressed. Callum manoeuvred himself as high as P4 before falling down the order at the third of his four visits to the pit road.
The 24-year-old steered clear of danger as the yellow flags flew on two separate occasions, however Agustín was unfortunate to contribute towards a red flag stoppage with six laps remaining. His car lost grip during a frantic restart and was powerless to avoid being part of a three-car pile-up at turn 11. He did return to action, claiming P20 in the final classification.
For Callum, his bold strategy move to pit early paid off nicely as he completed the race distance six positions higher than where he started.
“The pit stops were also good and the strategy worked well, so I’m pretty happy to claim some good points.”
Callum Ilott said:
“Overall, it was a positive race as I moved forward from my starting position to P12. It was a bit of a strange race; I didn’t really know where I was within the order for half of it.
“We took a bold strategy at the beginning to box early and tried to gain some clear air. In the end it worked, despite having the timing of an early caution period go against us.
“Our pace was good and I kept it clean, which is the most important thing here in Nashville. The pit stops were also good and the strategy worked well, so I’m pretty happy to claim some good points.”
“We took some points, and I gained more valuable experience about this street course and the series.”
Agustín Canapino said:
“I had strong race pace today. The car was good, but we had a little bit of bad luck with our pit stops and in the final part of the race I had drivers behind me on new tires. It’s a shame because I think we had a car to get a good result. We took some points, and I gained more valuable experience about this street course and the series.
“Now I will take some time to recover because it was a really physically tough race. Thank you to everybody in the team and we will come back stronger at Indy next weekend.”
“It has been a difficult weekend overall with the changing weather situation. However, today’s race was not a bad end as Callum earned a very good result with P12.”
Ricardo Juncos said:
“It has been a difficult weekend overall with the changing weather situation. However, today’s race was not a bad end as Callum earned a very good result with P12. We had good pace during the race and were able to get some good points.
“Unfortunately for Agustín, a P20 finish after contact with another driver was not the result we were hoping for. He was also running at a competitive pace, having risen from P23 to P16 at one stage in the race.
“I want to thank every team member for their huge effort this weekend. Now, we are going to focus on the race next weekend at our home track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
Rasmus Lindh and Victor Franzoni’s Nashville weekend ended on a positive note when the duo claimed P7 and P14 respectively in the INDY NXT by Firestone Music City Grand Prix this morning.
Extreme wet weather led to the cancellation of yesterday’s qualifying, meaning entrant points decided today’s starting grid. That meant Victor lined up P9 while Rasmus was P12.
The opening exchanges were hotly contested on the narrow street course and Victor lost valuable ground on lap 5 as he adjusted to INDY NXT competition for the first time. However, the Brazilian showed his mettle as he fought back to score 16 championship points.
Rasmus, who was invigorated by his podium finish last time out in Iowa, completed a host of courageous overtakes across the 35-lap race to finish P7 – less than three seconds shy of the podium places.
“It was great to be back with Juncos Hollinger Racing and I’m sure that after this weekend we’ll be ready to fight for podiums and wins.”
Victor Franzoni said:
“This weekend was very good. We wanted a better result, but I think that I accomplished what I needed in order to get good results at the next few races. It was great to be back with Juncos Hollinger Racing and I’m sure that after this weekend we’ll be ready to fight for podiums and wins.
“It was hard to debut on this track and get used to the speed of a street circuit and the braking requirements. I didn’t have many laps in the dry before the race, but everything ended well. Thank you to all of our sponsors and the team for making this happen.”
“The race was not too bad for us this morning. Starting from P12 like we did today is never easy, especially in Nashville. ”
Rasmus Lindh said:
“The race was not too bad for us this morning. Starting from P12 like we did today is never easy, especially in Nashville. After a closely fought race, we made it to P7 in the end.
“We still need to find a little more to challenge for a win, but I would like to thank the whole team for all of their hard work this weekend to take us one step further towards that goal.”
“That was not a bad result, considering that we couldn’t qualify and show what we really had for this weekend.”
Ricardo Juncos said:
“It was a good race for Rasmus earlier today, as he came from P12 to finish P7. That was not a bad result, considering that we couldn’t qualify and show what we really had for this weekend.
“I’m also really happy to see Victor finish the race after being out of racing in INDY NXT for five years. Now, I’m looking forward to next weekend’s race at Indianapolis.”