Saturday, June 11, 2022

INDYCAR: Despite lockup, Callum Ilott and Juncos Hollinger Racing shine in Road America qualifying

Ilott's No. 77 earlier this season at Barber.
PHOTO: Juncos Hollinger Racing via Twitter

by William Soquet Staff Writer

During the closing moments of Round 1 qualifying this afternoon at Road America, two rookies sat in the final two transfer spots: Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard. While Lundgaard was eventually bounced from the second round of qualifying in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car, Ilott put his Juncos Hollinger Racing car in the second round of qualifying for the second time this season. For a driver that’s had his fair share of troubles this year, with three finishes in the Bottom Three this year and a hand injury that forced him to miss Detroit, Ilott’s advancement perhaps signaled the turning of a corner for himself and an emergent JHR team.

However, a good run wound up not being in the cards. On his first flying lap, Ilott locked up the brakes in Turn 14 and went all the way through the gravel trap to the outside tire barrier. The incident ended his qualifying session, as there was not enough time remaining to make another run at a qualifying lap. 

With no time recorded during Round 2, Ilott will start from the 12th position in tomorrow’s Sonsio Grand Prix. The spot is Ilott’s second-best of the season after starting 11th at Barber earlier this season, a race that was coincidentally also hampered by an off-course excursion in a gravel trap. But the fact remains that for a team and driver who both faced uncertainty a year ago, both are well on their way to proving themselves in the IndyCar paddock. Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger put together an IndyCar operation out of the shell of what used to be Carlin, and Ilott has shown to be a more than capable pilot after spending years in the European circuit. The team has no technical alliances, and still managed to outqualify over half of the field, including the points leader. Despite the obvious blemish that was the contact in Round 2, the performance of Ilott and JHR deserves a call today and will definitely be an entry to watch tomorrow.

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