Sebastian Saavedra will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in 2017 after becoming Juncos Racing’s second driver.
The Colombian last competed at the legendary 2.5-mile oval back in 2015 as part of a five-race deal with Chip Ganassi Racing, and has a best finish of fifteenth back in 2014 with KV Racing Technology, and Saavedra is delighted to be back in the field in 2017 with Juncos Racing with AFS Racing.
“I’m incredibly blessed and incredibly grateful to (team principal) Ricardo [Juncos] to motivate Gary [Peterson] to come back and push the envelope,” said Saavedra. “We’re into an amazing program with amazing personnel with a real shot at being competitive, which we knew we weren’t going to be last year.
“We put all the effort that we didn’t put in last year into this year and it’s showing. Since Jan. 1, we’ve been non-stop. That’s what we’re hoping to portray throughout the month of May.”
Saavedra had looked set to compete in the 2016 event with AFS Racing but withdrew from it late in the day due to the timing of the race meaning they would not be prepared or competitive enough for their liking, and it made him even more determined to return this year.
“As much as I missed it, I think it was the best decision,” said Saavedra. “We had everything to do it, we were set to do it and we were the only ones to pull the plug.
“We were not going to be competitive. We were not only late in the game but the personnel that we managed to basically scramble to get wasn’t who we wanted.
“Racing for (the sake of) racing is something we don’t do, something AFS Racing is not meant to be doing. Yeah, it was rough. You’re sitting there on the outside of the 100th running; there’s only one of those in a century.
“But I think it was the best decision because it led to us to kind of regroup, kind of sit down and oversee all the different opportunities.”
Team Principal Ricardo Juncos says Saavedra’s experience at IMS will benefit the team as they make their first attempt at the Indy 500, feeling it is a good opportunity for both team and driver alike.
“We share a lot of the same culture because we’re Latin American,” Juncos said. “We speak the same language. There are a lot of little things in common.
“Sebastian obviously is still very young, but he’s done the Indy 500 five times. He has the experience and now he’s mature enough to learn from that experience, the good or bad things in the past, and put it together for this Indy 500. It’s a good opportunity for all of us.”