Juncos Hollinger Racing might as well be called “the Little Team that Could”.
Despite being the only full-time single-car team and having a rookie driver, the organization has put up another solid qualifying effort for the second race in a row.
Rookie Callum Ilott qualified the No. 77 car in the seventh position out of 27 starters for Saturday’s race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, up from his career-best qualifying effort of 11th at Barber Motorsports Park two weeks ago.
Illott narrowly missed the Firestone Fast Six for a shot at the pole
"I knew it was going to be close, so it's a bit of a shame but overall that was a much more rewarding run,” Illott said of his qualifying run. “I tried everything. We made a mega effort. I just drive at the end of the day, and that's what I'm paid to do.”
Illot’s qualifying position is more awe-inspiring when it is realized that he out-qualified the entire Andretti Autosport organization as well as several other key contenders. But he could not take claim to the amazing effort all to himself.
“Where we've come from, it's more about putting it together and building the team together. It's the small differences in getting it right,” Illot said. “We've got good road-course guys. These guys put together a mega effort to make it happen but there's still a lot more to come. I think we've only just started the development. Hopefully, we can do a bit more later on."
Team co-owner Brad Hollinger is also excited to see what Illott can do this weekend.
“After our test here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, I am really looking forward to seeing what we can do after all of the improvements we have made these past seven months,” Hollinger said. “Callum and the team showed what we are capable of at Barber, so I am confident we have what it takes to be competitive again this weekend.”
Besides qualifying 11th two weeks ago, Illot also made headlines when he finished at the top of the charts in final practice at Barber. During the race itself, he made it up to sixth place before he went off course and had to settle for a disappointing 25th-place finish.