Skip to content

Rookie Carlos Munoz: Indy’s biggest surprise to date this year

May 24, 2013, 7:00 AM EDT

Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz of Colombia drives practice laps on the second day of qualifications in Indianapolis Reuters

A little more than one month ago, only the most ardent of IndyCar observers had heard of, or really paid attention to, Andretti Autosport Indianapolis 500 rookie Carlos Munoz.

Now, mere days before the 97th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Colombian is probably the month of May’s biggest surprise.

Munoz really came on towards the end of last Indy Lights season driving for Andretti, posting a pair of wins in Edmonton and Fontana. He’s a championship favorite this season, with wins already at Barber and Long Beach and searching for his third in a row Friday in the Firestone Freedom 100.

Oh, and he starts second in the 500 on Sunday. It’s the same accomplishment as his countryman, Juan Pablo Montoya, achieved in 2000 – Montoya went on to win the race.

Munoz is the fourth driver to race in both IndyCar and Indy Lights at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the same month. He had his first IndyCar test at Texas in March, and described his preparation for the month of May during the Long Beach weekend.

“I had had a really good day (in Texas), and I got very comfortable in the car,” Munoz told me at Long Beach. “I knew we had to go step-by-step; learn the track, learn the car and everything. We got faster and faster but I knew we had a really good car for the Indy 500.”

Easy for him to say at the time, but him following through in reality was a tough ask. So far, Munoz has passed with flying colors.

Running an aggressive line through Turn 1, Munoz has flirted with disaster with entering late and then diving underneath the white line. But it appears to be working. He’s stepped into a car, the No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet, that has been among – if not the – quickest of the five-car Andretti armada this month.

“In the beginning, I was really nervous about it. But once I was in the car, everything was clear,” Munoz said after qualifying for the 500. “It seems easier on the TV. For four laps you have to be really precise each lap. If you turn a little bit later or a little bit earlier, the whole car is different.”

Thursday marked the first time this month Munoz shifted back to his regular car in Indy Lights. He qualified second there, as well, behind Sage Karam. The focus Friday shifts solely to Lights, even though there’s Carb Day practice for IndyCar beforehand.

“We had so much fun last year in that race because we were overtaking all the time,” Munoz said Thursday. “But I am going one-by-one. I am focusing first with Indy Lights – then I will focus on the Indy 500.”

Latest Posts
  1. Mallya stresses sustainability in bid to ‘uncrap’ F1

    Jul 4, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 11: UB group Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Mallya talking with media at Parliament House after attending the extended winter session on February 11, 2014 in New Delhi, India.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) Getty Images

    The coinage of a new term took place at Silverstone on Thursday thanks for Force India’s owner.

  2. Raikkonen and Vettel downbeat as Ferrari lags to third row at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Both Ferraris will start behind Williams for the first time in 2015 on Sunday.

  3. Ricciardo disappointed to have qualifying times deleted

    Jul 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing prepares in the garage during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Red Bull driver will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix from tenth place on the grid.

  4. GP2: Sirotkin claims maiden win as Rossi storms to second place at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    A lively GP2 race sees Sirotkin claim his first win in the series ahead of Rossi and championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne.

  5. McLaren reprimanded after tire mix-up in qualifying

    Jul 4, 2015, 12:19 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso drives during the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      
 AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A communication error caused one of Jenson Button’s tires to be fitted to Fernando Alonso’s car.

  6. Verstappen surprised by Q2 elimination at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Scuderia Toro Rosso's Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen spins off the track during the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.       AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Dutchman admits to NBCSN that he thought he would easily make it through to Q3 in British GP qualifying.

  7. Massa delighted as Williams enjoys best qualifying of season at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Massa will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix from third place on the grid ahead of Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas.

  8. Rosberg: Narrow defeat to Hamilton in qualifying ‘annoying’

    Jul 4, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton (R) shakes hands with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg after the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix. Hamilton took pole ahead of teammate Rosberg with Massa in third place.
 AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    German driver misses out on pole position by just 0.113 seconds on Saturday at Silverstone.

  9. Hamilton hails “a special day” after scoring Silverstone pole

    Jul 4, 2015, 9:47 AM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Hamilton thanks fans for support as over 100,000 come out for qualifying on Saturday at Silverstone.

  10. Hamilton storms to home pole position at British GP

    Jul 4, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates taking pole after the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      
 AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton edges out Rosberg for top spot in Q3 on Saturday at Silverstone.

  11. WATCH LIVE: British GP Qualifying on CNBC and Live Extra from 8am ET

    Jul 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP walks to the garage from the motorhome during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Can Lewis Hamilton storm to his eighth pole position of the 2015 Formula 1 season on Saturday at Silverstone?

  12. Hamilton closes out British GP practice fastest

    Jul 4, 2015, 6:02 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton drives during the third practice session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    British driver back on top at Silverstone as Rosberg suffers another gearbox problem.

  13. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the British Grand Prix on Live Extra from 5am ET

    Jul 4, 2015, 4:45 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives in the pit lane during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rosberg looks to make it a clean sweep of practice sessions on Saturday morning.

  14. GP2: Sirotkin on pole for Silverstone feature race

    Jul 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Sirotkin claims his first pole in the GP2 Series on Friday ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Richie Stanaway.

  15. Red Bull GRC: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross excited for first race at military base

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    SpeedDaytonaGRC Getty Images

    Foust seeks another win, Speed looks for bounce back from tough Daytona at MCAS.

  16. Filippi elated after first oval test, calling it “like a roller coaster x 10″

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    DETROIT, MI - MAY 29:  Luca Filippi, of Italy,  is shown in the pits during practice for Verizon IndyCar At Detroit Belle Isle on May 29, 2015 in Detroit, MI, United States.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The street and road course specialist gets his first taste of an oval in Iowa this week.

  17. Alonso unsure McLaren will reach Q2 at Silverstone

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso drives during the second practice session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 2, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Spaniard expects a close fight with Sauber during qualifying on Saturday.

  18. Wolff enjoys final practice run-out of 2015 season

    Jul 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Wolff finishes eight-tenths of a second behind regular Williams driver Felipe Massa in FP1 on Friday.

  19. Hamilton more comfortable with old clutch setup

    Jul 3, 2015, 1:22 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    British driver switches back to the old setting on his Mercedes after struggling in the past four races.