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Canapino to remain at Juncos for remainder of 2024 season

Written by Dan Jones

Credit: Chris Jones

Agustín Canapino will return to the #78 Juncos Hollinger Racing car at IndyCar's next event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and will remain in the car the the rest of the season, after the Argentine driver took a 'leave of absence' from IndyCar's most recent event at Road America, linked to mental health issues.

Nolan Siegel occupied the car in Canapino's absence for Road America, getting the call-up on Friday afternoon, after Canapino's camp stated that he 'felt like he had become the villain' and he was 'not in a position from an emotional perspective to get behind the wheel of a race car.' Team owner, Brad Hollinger, stated that 'driver safety is utmost important to us,' and that the team 'made the right decision in that regard.'

Canapino's absence links back to the event at Detroit, where Arrow McLaren driver, Théo Pourchaire collided with the 34-year-old, causing him to lose three positions in the race.

This caused several of Canapino's fans to direct online abuse at Pourchaire, as has unfortunately been the case in previous seasons with Callum Ilott. Pourchaire noted that he had recieved several death threats amidst the abuse. The situation was only worsened when Canapino liked several Tweets defending the situation, and even mocking Pourchaire.

Canapino would later put out a statement saying 'he had not seen a single death threat directed at those who claim to have received them' and that his Argentine fanbase 'should not be accused of something we are not.'

The Juncos cars were notably darker at Road America. Credit: Joe Skibinski

The situation lead to an ending of the Juncos-McLaren alliance, with the papaya flares on the Juncos Hollinger Racing cars swiftly removed, and replaced with a black tone. Canapino was at the Road America event, including at the autograph session, but was replaced several hours later, at the discretion of team owner, Brad Hollinger.

Canapino has since put out a video on his social media stating the 'stress was affecting him in an unusual context.' Canapino also noted in a message to his fans that 'all fans around the world need to be aware of the damage that an insult or aggression on social media can cause, regardless of where it comes from.'

Team owner, Ricardo Juncos stated: “We are a team with shared goals and objectives, and will always focus on prioritizing and supporting what our drivers need. From now on, our focus is on Laguna Seca and the rest of the 2024 season.”

Credit: James Black

Canapino, now in his second IndyCar season, lies 22nd in the standings, with a season's best finish of 12th on the Streets of Detroit, as well as 10th in the non-championship, $1 Million Challenge, with his #78 car currently lying just within the leaders circle, after Siegel finished 23rd when he substituted for Canapino in Road America.

Romain Grosjean brought home the teams best result of the season in Road America, with a seventh place finish at the flag. The round in Laguna Seca was one that Canapino performed well at last season, being in podium contention before strategy fell by the wayside. Late race contact with then teammate, Callum Ilott, worsened Canapino's day, and led to more social media abuse which saw Ilott depart the team.

However, despite rumorus that Canapino would be out of a drive, he remains in the #78 Juncos Hollinger Racing car for the rest of the 2024 season.


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