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Scholarship Winners Leave No Surprise with 2018 Destinations

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After securing a scholarship for the next step of their Mazda Road to Indy career, the big decision for drivers is which team they will compete with. The three winners from this past year left no surprise with their eventual destination, though.

Victor Franzoni will remain with Juncos Racing in his chase for the 2018 Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

“I am so happy to be back with Juncos Racing,” said Franzoni. “We had an amazing year last year and I could not have won the Pro Mazda Championship without all of their support and hard work. We went into each race with such focus and knowing that if anything happened on track it could end the season. After our amazing experience last year, I am confident we will be successful in the Indy Lights Championship. I would like to thank everyone on the team, my family, Mazda, Cooper Tires, and Andersen Promotions for helping me make this possible.”

He won the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires last year following five poles and seven wins.

Team Owner Ricardo Juncos said, “I am so happy to have Victor (Franzoni) with us for the 2018 season. I have always seen a lot of myself in him. At times, life puts you in very difficult situations and there are no other options than to succeed with zero margins of error. This kid knows a lot about this and he is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and I absolutely love that. I have no doubt that he will be a contender for the Indy Lights Championship. I have 100% confidence and trust in the crew behind Victor and look forward to the start of the season.”

Oliver Askew sticks with Cape Motorsports to chase after the Pro Mazda Championship in 2018.

“It was a no-brainer to stay with Cape Motorsports,” said Askew. “It was important for me to build on the relationship with them, especially after the success that we had last year. It was the right place at the right time for me being a rookie in the field with the new USF2000 car creating a somewhat level playing field. And in Pro Mazda this year, it’s a similar situation. Where my career has gone in the past couple of years is a complete turnaround of what might have happened without Mazda Road to Indy. I don’t know if I would have been able to keep racing or make the step from karts to cars, so Mazda made that possible for me and many drivers beforehand.”

He won the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda last season, after winning the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout in December 2016.

“All of us at Mazda are pleased to have Oliver back in a Soul Red race car for 2018,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “What he and his Cape Motorsports teammates accomplished in 2017 was truly remarkable, and they are certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with again this season. Oliver showed immediate speed, competitiveness, and race craft from the outset of his rookie season and we are pleased to have him again representing Mazda as part of the Mazda Road to Indy Class of 2018.”

Keith Donegan will join ArmsUp Motorsports after winning the 2017 edition of the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout.

“I’m super excited for the 2018 season,” said Donegan. “Obviously I have much to learn such as the cars, the tracks, the team and even the country. But I can’t wait for the challenge that lies ahead and I think we can do a really good job this year. ArmsUp Motorsport has a lot of experience in USF2000 and I believe that together we should be able to win races and hopefully the championship. Before the Shootout, I had never envisioned a way I could make a career out of racing. I’ve been dreaming of that ever since I was a kid, but the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship has made that dream attainable and has relit the fire inside of me – I’m going to grab this opportunity with both hands and give it everything I can.”

Donegan got his chance at the shootout after strong performances at the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone and the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch to be invited to the Shootout.

“The $200,000 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout has been recognized world-wide as the key entry point to a clear path to the top rungs of IndyCar racing,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “For the second year in a row, well over a dozen drivers from all around the globe came to be part of the final on-track selection process. We are so grateful to be able to provide this program to the industry and all the young talent and families looking to grow their careers. We are thrilled to welcome Keith into the Mazda family with the well-established ArmsUp squad and wish him a very successful rookie season in the USF2000 Championship. We hope we can keep him here in the Mazda Road to Indy program for years to come.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin is currently studying journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber while writing for multiple websites. She also serves on the managing staff for a select few. Born in North York, Ontario, McCubbin currently lives in Bradford, Ontario and spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area where she enjoys taking photos and working on websites.

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