Watkins Glen, New York (September 4, 2017) – Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni dominated the double header finale weekend at Watkins Glen International Raceway wining both Rounds 11 and 12, giving him the necessary points to claim the 2017 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires. The team also won the Indy Lights Championship, making them the first team to win both series in the same year in Mazda Road to Indy history.
The 2017 Pro Mazda season began for Juncos Racing with less than a week’s notice before the season opener in March at St. Petersburg, Florida. Victor Franzoni (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Jeff Green (Peoria, Illinois) completed the two car line up for Juncos Racing. Franzoni, who finished second for both rounds, would prove from that point on Juncos Racing would be in the battle for the championship the rest of the season.
The final weekend on the 3.37 mile, 11-Turn road course at Watkins Glen came down to two points separating Franzoni in the #23 Juncos Racing car and Anthony Martin. Franzoni would start his dominating performance of the Pro Mazda Watkins Glen Grand Prix presented by Cooper Tires, by finishing on the top of the speed charts during practice. Teammate Green, driving the #60 Juncos Racing car finished 10th.
Franzoni would carry the strong momentum into qualifying, picking up the pole position for Round 11, almost one second ahead of second and posting a new track qualifying record with a time of 1:42.4376. Green would take the ninth starting position.
The battle for the championship continued into Round 11 the following day. Franzoni, who started on the pole, would fall back to second at the beginning of the race. He would go on to fight his way back to the front, passing Martin during the final laps to take the first win of the weekend. Franzoni would post the fastest lap of the race and set a new track record with a time of 1:43.5737. Green finished 11th.
The final qualifying session took place later that afternoon for Round 12. Franzoni once again took the pole position, finishing the season with a total of five poles. Green improved to an eighth starting position.
Franzoni’s lead had extended to eight points going into the final race of the Pro Mazda championship. Rain set in that morning and Round 12 would go on under very wet conditions for the entire 20 lap race. Franzoni led the entire 20 lap race and would claim his seventh win of the season. The young Brazilian would also extend his led to 18 points, winning the 2017 Pro Mazda Championship. Teammate Green, finished 10th.
By winning the Pro Mazda Championship, Franzoni is awarded an $800,000 Mazda Scholarship which helps fund his move into the final Mazda Road to Indy series step, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series.
“This year was amazing,” said Franzoni. “Juncos Racing and I did what we had to do, win the Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires Championship. It was a really difficult season as we had to push ourselves a lot, but in the end, it was worth it. I learned a lot this year. I did not expect to have the results we had, so I’d like to thank Juncos Racing for this season. Without them this year wouldn’t have been possible.”
Teammate Green, who showed great improvement throughout the year finishes the season eighth in the championship.
“After this year of racing it sort of feels like the last day of college when you look back and reflect on everything you have learned and accomplished,” said Green. “The hard part now is to leave it all behind. The best part of this year was that I was involved in Victor Franzoni’s future. This young man is special, he’s got a big heart and he has that sharp edge that is going to take him far in his racing career. The Juncos team have helped advance both Victor (Franzoni) and Kyle (Kaiser) to the next stage in their careers. I ask myself every time I was around these guys, how did I get so lucky to run with one of the best teams in the United States.”
Team Owner Ricardo Juncos was thrilled to see Franzoni claim both wins giving him the points to win the championship and deliver the team their third Pro Mazda Driver Championship. Juncos Racing finished second in the team championship.
“I am so happy to have won this championship with Victor Franzoni,” said Juncos. “We decided to do this championship only a few days before the season started. He (Franzoni) had a strong test with us last year during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Victor set the track record during the test, which proved to us he was a great driver. This was one of the most difficult championships because we knew it was going to be between him and Anthony Martin, which it was that way until the very end. Knowing that the championship was that close there was a lot of pressure put on the team and that we could not make one mistake. The turning point for us was at Gateway, we had not run well there, but were finally able to find a great set-up. Victor drove an amazing race and won, which gave him a two-point lead coming into Watkins Glen, which I believe was key to the championship. Victor did a great job all weekend at Watkins Glen, earning both poles, and winning both races. The team and Victor did everything they could to make sure they finished the season in the best possible way. Victor is an amazing driver, and proved that all season long. Victor is a very talented young man and I know he will go far. I need to thank Victor for giving the team their third championship, and a big thank you to his family for always supporting the team.”
Juncos was pleased with the success of Jeff Green this season and said “I would like to thank Jeff Green for being a part of this incredible year. He did an amazing job all season, helping Victor (Franzoni) win this championship. Jeff is an amazing person and very passionate driver. We had a great year with him and also had a lot of fun. Gateway was Jeff’s best race this year, where he finished fifth and was the third fastest car on track. He has proven he is a talented driver as well, despite his age. I want to thank his family, and wife Pamela for all of their support this year.”
The 2017 season proved to be the most intense year for Juncos Racing as they entered into the ninth season in the Pro Mazda and third season in the Indy Lights series, along with putting together a new two car Verizon IndyCar program for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.
“I am so proud of all my team members as this has been the most intense and difficult year in the team’s history,” said Juncos. “We continued our run in the Mazda Road to Indy series, and put together a two car Verizon IndyCar team for the Indianapolis 500 in less than two months. Everyone on the Pro Mazda team worked on the IndyCar team as well, putting in a lot of long hours during May. These guys always put forth their best effort and that showed by both cars finishing inside the Top-20 during the Indy 500, and now winning our third Pro Mazda driver championship is what we needed to finish off an intense year. I want to thank everyone on the team and everyone who has supported us, we would not be where we are today without these people.”
The team would prove from the start that they would continue their focus on both Mazda Road to Indy programs, by collecting multiple podiums and race wins in both series. Juncos Racing ended the year winning both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights championship, the first team to do so in the same season in the history of the Mazda Road To Indy ladder series.