BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Up until a few months ago, Agustin Canapino thought his entire racing career would be spent in his home country of Argentina.
That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, Canapino is one of the most successful drivers Argentina has ever produced, having won more than 100 races and a total of 15 championships in various domestic racing series.
Fate, though, had other plans. When Juncos Hollinger Racing founder and fellow countryman Ricardo Juncos arranged to have an NTT IndyCar Series exhibition in Buenos Aires last November, he tapped Canapino to handle the driving duties. Then, on Jan. 12, he announced that the 33-year-old Canapino would be joining his IndyCar team behind the wheel of the No. 78 JHR Chevrolet.
The IndyCar world was more than surprised at the announcement, though not as much as the driver was. But after three races, he’s more than shown his mettle, finishing 12th at the season opener at St. Pete and an impressive 11th at Texas – the first oval race of his career.
He heads into Sunday’s Children’s Hospital Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park 18th in the IndyCar points standings, just one point behind Marcus Armstrong in the Rookie of the Year race.
Canapino admits there is a part of himself that is still trying to catch up.
“It came really fast and was unexpected,” Canapino told Frontstretch. “It’s amazing. It’s tough and a big challenge, but at the same time I am happy to be here, and I’m trying to make the most of this opportunity.”
Canapino’s relationship with Ricardo Juncos goes back to 2019, when he joined Juncos Racing in its DPi car for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. There he helped his team to an eighth-place class finish, then competed again with Juncos in the 12 Hours of Sebring, where the Juncos effort finished 10th in class.
Fast forward to 2022. When the exhibition in Argentina also involved a test at Sebring, and when Canapino was quickly running laps and posting data comparable to other drivers Juncos had in mind for the seat, the team principal knew he had his driver.
“I (was interested) when we had the chance to see him in Daytona (in 2018), in the prototype,” Juncos said “When I saw him in the prototype I could see that difference he made and knew he would drive open wheel. Since then I have tried to find a way to do something with him, and four years later we finally got to put something together.
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